BIO’s reaction to recent press articles

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BIO wishes to rectify certain erroneous information published in the press on its subject. BIO supports SMEs in developing countries, in numerous sectors which create jobs and value added locally. Since it was set up, BIO has supported, directly and via intermediary structures, hundreds of thousands of end beneficiaries in developing countries. The projects supported by BIO have considerable positive effects on the development of the local economic fabric in poor countries and contribute to improving the living conditions of the local population.

BIO is not a bank – it does not have a banking licence – but a development finance institution, whose investment resources are allocated by the Ministry of Development Cooperation, after approval of the Council of Ministers.

All investment decisions are approved by BIO’s Board of Directors, of whom 9 current members are appointed, upon introduction by the Belgian State. Two Government Commissioners, one representing the Minister of Development Cooperation and the other the Budget Minister, sit on the Board.

All BIO’s activities are transparent and legitimate. Every year BIO files a detailed report on all its activities with the National Bank of Belgium. This annual report is approved by its General Meeting, at which the Minister of Development Cooperation is represented. BIO’s accounts are audited annually by a Corporate Audit Firm and by the Court of Audit.

BIO does not have any offshore bank accounts and is not involved in any tax fraud, tax evasion or tax optimisation schemes. All the resources made available to it by the Belgian State are placed on accounts in Belgium before being transferred to enterprises in developing countries in a transparent and traceable way, after an evaluation and decision-making process, which is equally transparent. Moreover, BIO is required to report every year to the Finance Ministry all payments in excess of EUR 100,000 made to States which do not apply substantially and effectively the OECD standard on exchanges of information or to States which have no tax or low tax regimes.

In addition, it can track funds up to the end beneficiary and monitor their actual use via regular reports transmitted by all the funds in which it invests. Moreover, BIO receives from the latter an audited annual report containing details of the use of the resources that it has invested in enterprises in developing countries.

All BIO’s investments are assessed in terms of their relevance for development before being approved and disbursed.

Finally, an external evaluation of BIO was carried out at the end of 2012, by the Special Evaluation Unit, which is part of the FPS[1] Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. The report published in January 2013 recognises the fundamental role played by BIO and confirms that this institution is an appropriate instrument to provide sustainable support to the private sector in developing countries.

The first part of the report, including the Management Response provided by BIO, can be downloaded here.

[1] Federal Public Service