Flexible financing for a fast-growing city
Vilnius was the first capital city in the Baltic states to work with the CEB, and is one of the most innovative and dynamic cities in the Nordic-Baltic region. In 2017 the CEB approved a public sector finance facility (PFF) for €35 million with Vilnius City Municipality, helping to part-finance many social investments in the city. Another €35 million loan agreement has been signed on 20 April 2021.
Vilnius has a long-term strategy to become a ‘friendly, comfortable, changing and innovative place, which fosters traditions and culture and promotes continued progress and development’. However, it is growing quickly: in the three years since the PFF was approved, the population has grown by 10,000 people to number over 580,000. The demands of a fast-growing, demographically varied population mean that the City Municipality has looked to access funding for its many social investments from a number of international financial institutions.
The PFF approved by the CEB has provided support at two levels: by helping to partially co-finance the City Municipality’s integrated territory development programme (ITDP) – related to the EU funds framework 2014-2020 – as well as its own urban development investments in 2017-2020.
As a result, to date, CEB funding has part-financed 28 social investments ranging from improving living conditions for vulnerable people, to enhancing healthcare and educational facilities, and cultural projects.
Enhancing education facilities
CEB funds have supported the extension/renovation of one pre-school, three primary schools and eight secondary schools. The PFF has also part-financed the expansion of the Vilnius Balsiai pro-gymnasium on the outskirts of Vilnius.
The pro-gymnasium was one of the first new school buildings built after Lithuanian independence in 1990. It provides basic and primary education for almost 1,000 students between the ages of 6 and 14, including those with special needs. The modernised school uses innovative learning concepts such as forest school, as well as the latest IT. Its flexible design means that the dining hall can be changed into a lecture hall. There are performance and sports halls, sports grounds and a stadium.
A helping hand for social services
Every day, the charitable canteen at the Hope Centre on Gardino Street provides up to 500 free meals to people who are living in poverty. The CEB funding has helped the facility to upgrade its services and accommodation. As well as a canteen, the facility provides everything from laundry to legal services, and delivers food to the homes of people in poor health.
CEB funding has also enabled the renovation of a hostel on A. Kojelavičiaus Street, improving the quality and accessibility of services to people at risk of becoming socially marginalised. The hostel will provide an array of services, from counselling, mediation and representation, to accommodation and training courses.
Safer streets and greener spaces
The CEB has also helped to fund street and traffic safety upgrades in Vilnius, as well as work on the waterfront along the Neris River to create green spaces, bicycle routes and walkways.
Health and wellbeing, culture and tourism
The PFF has supported the creation of a multifunctional sports and wellness centre, various sports grounds, the reconstruction of a museum and the maintenance of a manor house. Four medical centres have been renovated or upgraded with support from the initial PFF.
The need for extra funding
In mid-2020, Vilnius City Municipality requested an increase to the existing PFF by €35 million. This additional loan was approved by the CEB and the framework loan agreement signed on 20 April 2021. The additional funding was requested because the implementation of the City Municipality’s ITDP investments will continue until 2023; the City Municipality also requires additional financing for its investments. What’s more, relevant eligible sub-projects are ongoing, and the Bank wants to ensure that these can be completed.
Supporting post-pandemic recovery
The additional CEB funding will also enable Vilnius City Municipality to put steps in place to enable the city to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis has driven the need for greater investment in healthcare services across Vilnius; from 2020 to 2022, the Municipality plans to allocate more funding to healthcare investments.
"We are one of the fastest growing capitals in the region, so to improve the quality of life of citizens, we have invested in health, recreation, roads and urban infrastructure. We used the major part of the funds for investments in important urban infrastructure renewal projects: renovation and modernization of the Neris coastal recreation areas, funds were also allocated for the installation of bicycle and pedestrian paths, construction of underground municipal waste container sites throughout the city", says Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius.
Commenting on the loan extension, Diana Bertje, CEB Country Manager for Lithuania said, “I’m proud to have been involved in the CEB establishing the relationship with Vilnius City Municipality back in 2017.
The project’s implementation has reconfirmed the relevance of investing in urban development in Vilnius. We’re seeing the living and working conditions of inhabitants, of all ages and social backgrounds, benefitting from the improved infrastructure. Personally, every time I am in Vilnius I see the city transforming, becoming more modern, innovative and comfortable, and making a better quality of life for its citizens and visitors.
This additional loan amount will continue the CEB’s successful cooperation with Vilnius and its drive to play an important role in supporting public investment projects.”
CEB investment in Vilnius