Description of the goods or services required
EU/EBRD SME Competitiveness Programme in Eastern Partnership (EaP) - Verification Consultant
Since 1998, Partnership and Cooperation Agreements have been providing comprehensive frameworks for cooperation between the EU and Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries in various areas of reform. Association Agreements (AAs), including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) were signed in June 2014 by Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Since then, the EBRD set up and implemented a DCFTA programme (under the brand EU4BUSINESS EBRD Credit Line) since 2016 to assist businesses in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in the context of the ratification by these countries of DCFTA. Two phases of the DCFTA programme have already taken place and are due to finish soon. At the same time, it has become clear to the EU that extending the support to SME developed through the DCFTA programme to other EaP countries - namely Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus – would be appropriate to pursue.
The purpose of the new EU/EBRD SME Competitiveness Programme in Eastern Partnership (EaP) (the “Programme”) is to increase the capability of SMEs in the six countries to access and face competition on the EU market, through supporting the implementation of the EU standards at SME level in the field of environmental protection, occupational health and safety and product quality and safety. This Programme will address the key areas of vulnerability for SME businesses, namely access to funding, preferably longer term and in local currency, through locally operating financial intermediaries, for investments meeting EU standards and promoting the use of green technologies, thereby enhancing SME competitiveness locally and regionally. Progress with the adoption of the EU acquis communautaire will involve significant regulatory changes, which will require new investments in order for enterprises to comply with the new standards. Assisting SMEs to understand the new regulations and meet their investment needs is also consistent with the EBRD’s strategy, wherein supporting access to finance for this crucial segment is a continuing objective for the Bank. Furthermore, in line with the EBRD’s Green Economy Transition Approach (GET), it expected that a significant amount of green economy technologies will be financed under the Programme and accounted as part of the Sub-projects’ results. The EBRD will specifically provide senior debt financing to selected Participating Financial Institutions (“PFIs”) committed to the overall objectives under the EU Agreement of the EU SME Competitiveness Programme in Eastern Partnership. Building on the success results so far of the EU/EBRD DCFTA ‘EU4Business’ credit lines, it is envisaged that under the new Programme, at least EUR 300 million will be provided by the EBRD in loans to various PFIs in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Investment incentives to sub-borrowers will be made available on verification by an independent verification consultant that sub-projects have been successfully implemented.
The objective of the Assignment is to ensure that the use of proceeds of each sub-loan and the related investment incentive due to sub-borrowers on completion of eligible investments has met the eligibility criteria and that funded investments have been completed substantially on the basis of the investment plans prepared by the Project Consultant or in line with the List of Eligible Technologies (LET) procedures, on which the sub-projects were based.
The Verification Consultant will conduct validation of all sub-projects including, but not limited to, the following tasks:
· desk-based verification of small sub-projects (implemented through the LET approach);
· on-site check of all other sub-projects; unless specify differently in TORs for example in dealing with temporary situations such as COVID-19 movement restrictions;
· confirm the level and amount of investment incentives applicable;
· validate against the investment plan that the sub-project has been completed substantially on the basis of the investment plan/LET approach and the CVR check-list prepared by the Project Consultant;
· provide to the EBRD, the PC and the relevant PFI, with an opinion whether the sub-project has been completed substantially in line with the investment plan/LET approach and the eligibility criteria – such opinion is to be in the form of a memo and a CVR certificate issued based on the CVR check list.
The separate procurement process for the Project Consultant (PC) is in process in parallel to this one.