SARAJEVO, Dec 27 (Reuters) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development signed a 70 million euro ($83 million) loan deal for an infrastructure project in Bosnia on Wednesday, unlocking its funds after the passage of long-delayed laws on road tolls and excise taxes.
The failure of Bosnian authorities to pass required laws had blocked the disbursement of about 220 million euros the EBRD had approved and an additional 250 million euros of loans it considered for the expansion of the highway network in the Balkan country.
The laws were passed this month after political bickering in parliament blocked them for more than a year, paving the way for this first tranche to be released.
The bank signed the loan deal in the city of Banja Luka with the Republika Srpska Motorways company for the construction of the first section of the north-to-south highway passing through Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic, which will be linked to the existing 100 km trunk road.
“Following the approval of the fuel excise levy by the state parliament last week we are very pleased to be moving ahead immediately with the commitment of 70 million euro of new funds,” Ian Brown, the head of EBRD mission in Bosnia, said in a statement.
“This will create jobs and stimulate economic growth.”
The European Union is considering co-financing the project with a 15.3 million euros grant. ($1 = 0.8402 euros) (Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Alison Williams)