Better Life for the Poorest – The Best of An Overall Perspective of the Year
Juan E. Notaro
FONPLATA Executive President
The turn of the year always invites us to review our accomplishments and the objectives for the new period. Specially in the end of a year with a lot of political activity and at the beginning of twelve months that will bring big economic challenges, as I pointed out in my previous column.
Before referring to those achievements and objectives, I would like to come back to the reasons that drive the work of FONPLATA in cooperation with the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay to bring development “closer to the people”, as our motto says.
With the loans approved this year, we have helped Argentina to fight Chagas disease in border areas, to improve nutrition in the province of Buenos Aires, and to carry out infrastructure and road improvement programs. We have also funded roadway integration of Bolivia and Argentina, thus facilitating trade and the exchange of agricultural commodities and other goods between both countries, and, therefore, generating more opportunities in the countryside.
In Brazil, we continue to support the growth of medium-sized cities, real industrial and agricultural development hubs in the hinterland, which provide a great opportunity to plan and carry out organized and inclusive development for the people living in the backlands.
Integration among countries and development of border areas are still a priority in our institutional mandate. Therefore, in Paraguay, we have funded projects to facilitate people and goods transportation to Brazil, which generates trade, industrial, and agricultural opportunities.
Safety in forestry transportation is highly important for Uruguayan people working in this field, and this is one of the focus of our funding in this country, aiming at improving the life quality of timber production workers.
Each funding has impact in the daily life of real people, usually living in isolated, rural or border areas. Beyond the amounts and conditions of the loans, the most important thing is that each of these initiatives help to improve people’s daily life.
Nevertheless, figures also tell a story that we would like to share. In 2019, $460 million dollars were approved in loans. This exceeds, again, the funding of the previous year.
In March, our first issuance in the international capital market took place, with a more favorable interest rate than expected. Besides, credit rating agencies continued rating our management positively. The Board of Governors also approved the granting of loans to governorships or municipalities, depending on the country. This helps us diversify our funding methods and support more projects.
Just some weeks ago, we completed four years of negotiations for the trusteeship of the resources of the Structural Convergence Fund of MERCOSUR (FOCEM). We also started to manage and provide technical support for a loan granted by the European Investment Bank (EIB), made progress in the negotiations with KfW Development Bank, and disbursed $5.5 million dollars of a loan granted by the Official Credit Institute (ICO) of Spain.
In compliance with the abovementioned support to the development of middle-sized cities, we have organized the 1st Mayors Forum in Brazil; furthermore, to broaden the scope of our operations and to be closer to our member countries, we have inaugurated a new office in Uruguay, in addition to the ones FONPLATA already had in Argentina and Paraguay.
Besides, we have supported the building of housing solutions in our five member countries, through TECHO Foundation; we have helped to combat forest fire in the Chiquitania region, in Bolivia; and we have funded sport, cultural, and social activities in Bolivia, our host country.
Our priorities for 2020 include cooperation with the new governments of Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay, more presence in the member countries, and deepening negotiations for new members to join our institution.
Finally, I would like to invite you to the 1st Integration and Development Forum – date TBD –, in which ministers, congressmen, investors, representatives of the private sector and of international agencies, civil society, scholars, and experts will meet to discuss the most important issues on the integration and infrastructure agenda of the region.
I would also like to wish you a successful 2020, while we continue to bring development closer to the people.
Text originally published in the monthly column of Juan E. Notaro in the Huffington Post