The BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) intends to finance projects in the amount of $2.5-3 bln in 2017, NDB President Kundapur Vaman Kamath told TASS on Friday in an exclusive interview at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

“We believe that by the end of the year our loan book in terms of loan approvals, should be about $1,5 bln,” Kamath said. “Next year, with a gradual approach, we would increase our capital and have a potential to do, possibly, another $2.5-3 bln,” the NDB Chief added..

The NDB Board of Governors approved the package of credits in the amount of $811 mln for financing of first four investment projects in April 2016.

First Russian project 

The bank is going to submit the first Russian project for review to the Board of Governors in July of this year.

“I am hopeful that by this time next month we would be able to take a decision on that project and place it before our Board, for the next Board meeting in July,” he said.

Commenting on the situation with lending, he noted that technical reasons that caused the delay “are now at rest.”

“The first loans are going to each of our member countries, and we will consider one more next month and then we will have a loan to each member country,” he added.

In April of this year, the NDB Board of Governors approved the first four investment projects. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said after the meeting that the “green” projects “primarily oriented towards infrastructure in the field of energy, including solar energy” were primarily reviewed. According to him, at the time the Russian investment project in Karelia was not approved due to technical reasons, although it was almost ready.

Ruble-denominated bonds

NDB is also going to float ruble-denominated bonds in Russia by the end of this year.

“The prospect of launching a bond issuance in ruble is very bright,” the banker said. “Our own estimate is we will do it by the end of the year,” Kamath added.

Russian officials positively perceived the proposal to issue bonds on the Russian market, the NDB chief said. “We started with domestic ratings,” he said. The current strategy of the NDB is to look at local currency funding, he added.

Cooperation with Russian rating agency

The bank intends to start negotiations with the Russian Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA).

“I think we will start immediately, because, looking at ground situation yesterday – I’ve made up my mind and I shared with my colleagues – this is a market we should accentuate,” Kamath said. The Russian bond market is promising for the NDB, he added.

Moscow-Kazan High Speed Railroad

NDB may also take part in financing the project of the Moscow-Kazan High Speed Railroad.

NDB and Russian Railways “have met and indicated that they will take a look at that (possibility – TASS) as early as possible.”

Kamath said he plans to meet Deputy President of Russian Railways Alexander Misharin soon and the teams of the bank and the company should meet in the near future to discuss the project.

“We have had our discussions. I think, early stage discussions. We will continue discussions today, and I think the teams will have to meet – either in Russia or in Shanghai – to better understand the prospects and long-term viability and so on,” he said.

Kamath said that Russian Railways has not yet officially applied to the bank for funding for the project.

China plans to grant 400 bln rubles ($6.2 bln) for the Moscow-Kazan HSR as a loan for 20 years, more than 100 bln rubles ($1.5 bln) as a contribution to the charter capital of the project company.

Earlier Misharin said that China no longer demands sovereign guarantees from the Russian government for the project. It implies the format of concession when the state takes responsibility as a concedent, he said.

The Moscow-Kazan High Speed Railroad’s total length will stand at around 770 kilometers. Trains may go at a speed of 350-400 kilometers per hour, and the time en route between the two cities could be 3-3.5 hours against the current 14 hours.

The Moscow-Kazan railroad may later be extended to China, connecting the two countries across Kazakhstan. The transport scheme could become part of the route of a new Silk Road project, which is aimed at tying China with the European and Middle Eastern markets.

BRICS is an informal association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The group was founded in June 2006 at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and was known as BRIC prior to inclusion of South Africa in 2009. Russia was presiding in BRICS in 2015 and was chairing the BRICS Business Council until April 2016.

The agreement on establishing BRICS New Development Bank was reached on July 15, 2014 in Brazil’s Fortaleza. The bank’s starting capital was set at $100 bln. The Shanghai-headquartered bank has been set up to finance infrastructure projects and projects for sustainable development of BRICS and other developing countries.