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Latin America

Volume 454: debated on Monday 11 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the work being undertaken in Latin America by the World Bank. (106105)

We welcome the World Bank’s goals in Latin America, which are as follows:

Support higher and more stable growth and employment

Improve investment climate and competitiveness and generate jobs

Expand and improve infrastructure

Strengthen education and innovation systems

Consolidate macroeconomic stability and deepen financial systems

Support institutions for equity, inclusion, sustainability

Improve governance, participation, and service delivery

Achieve an inclusive but affordable welfare system

Promote effective natural resource use and environmental institutions

The World Bank implements these goals through lending, and also importantly through analytical work prepared to help Governments think through policy options. Our general assessment, backed up by analysis from the Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group is positive. They focus on key issues to unblock constraints to growth, including investment climate and tackling inequality—two major challenges for Latin America. We have been pleased that, with DFID help, the Bank has improved its analytical work by engaging with a wider range of actors in country. The Bank faces a particular challenge in Middle Income Countries, who have access to other sources of financing; this has pushed the Bank to be innovative—such as by working with subnational Governments—and to add value, such as by working on the design of social safety net programmes.

DFID’s Latin America Regional Assistance Plan (RAP) seeks to help the World Bank enhance its impact in reducing poverty. An independent interim assessment of progress on the RAP is currently taking place, including assessment of how our contributions are helping the World Bank to work in the region.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the work being undertaken in Latin America by the Inter-American Development Bank. (107533)

Latin America is facing the twin challenges of rapid globalisation and entrenched inequality. Poor people in the poorer and middle income countries are not always benefiting from globalisation. And the countries’ needs are changing, as many can access other sources of finance for development, including private capital. The new President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Alberto Moreno, is leading efforts to transform the Bank so that it can better assist countries to meet these challenges and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

One of the main changes underway is that new programmes are being designed to target the majority of the people of the region who are poor. One umbrella programme called “Opportunities for the Majority” represents a new way of assisting the people who lose out in the changes driven by the need to compete globally. The IDB’s new initiative includes projects to help people secure and exercise their rights, for example helping poor people to establish their citizenship and get the documents they need to work in the formal economy. Other areas being looked at include housing, water and electricity for poor people. The objective is to support practical programmes which will make a difference to peoples’ lives such as creating jobs and. opportunities for poor people to start their own businesses.