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Conference on financing and role of development banks opens in conjuncton with IDB-IIC Annual Meeting

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil - Latin America and the Caribbean and the multilateral development banks must work together to ensure that markets and financial services are not only more stable, efficient and competitive, but also more inclusive, with wide-based accessibility open to all, said Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno at the opening session of a conference on regional financing.

Moreno said that a majority of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean has very limited or no access to modern financial services. This prevents them from being able to save, borrow and insure, and from efficiently mobilizing their resources, however small. This represents an enormous cost to them and to the growth and development of the region's economies. He continued to say that financial democracy should be promoted by making sure that a higher percentage of the population, particularly the marginalized portion - such as small enterprises, rural producers and poor households - has access to quality financial services at affordable prices.

The conference on Latin American financing and the role of development banks, taking place March 30-31 at the Expominas Convention Center in Belo Horizonte, was also inaugurated by Brazil’s Planning Minister Paulo Bernardo; Minas Gerais State Governor Aécio Neves da Cunha; the President of the Latin American Association of Financial Institutions (ALIDE), Mario Laborín Gómez; and the President of the Management Council of the Minas Gerais Development Bank (BDMG), Hindemburgo Chateaubriand Pereira-Diniz. 

The two-day conference is a venue for distinguished international economists to analyze the impact of changes in international capital markets and global commerce on the growth of Latin America and the Caribbean and on the development of new strategies, areas of action and innovative instruments of public policy to finance development.

Among the participants in the sessions are two Nobel Prize laureates: professors Douglass North of Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, and Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University, New York.

Eminent researcher and professor John Williamson, of the Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C., who inspired the concept of the “Washington Consensus,” launched the debate on its results, implications for the region and the prospects of pursuing its economic policies vis-a-vis proposed changes in the international financial architecture.

Williamson reviewed and expanded concepts originally stated in the so-called Washington Consensus, focusing on the macroeconomic and microeconomic agendas, the institutions and the social agenda. “Latin America needs to move beyond the search for simple solutions that can be encapsulated by a slogan such as the Washington Consensus… (but) I do not believe that it reflects a desire to reverse the policy changes…” said Williamson.

He emphasized that by and large the region has got its macroeconomic policies in order and recognizes the importance of reforms encompassing institutions as well as policies. Williamson added that major institutional reforms have yet to be implemented. He also stressed that the social agenda now occupies a much more prominent place and declining poverty and improving income distribution suggest that some pay-offs begin to become apparent.

The Mayor of Belo Horizonte, Fernando Damata Pimentel, with the President of the Fórum Nacional of Brazil,  Paulo dos Reis Velloso, presided over the first session of discussions that will extend into friday. The conference was organized by the BMDG and ALIDE in coordination with the IDB.

The conference is part of a series of events sponsored by the IDB that are taking place in Belo Horizonte prior to the plenary sessions of the 47th Annual Meeting of the Bank’s Board of Governors and 21st Annual Meeting of the Inter-American Investment Corporation, which will be held April 3-5.

The event in Belo Horizonte, capital of the State of Minas Gerais, will be the fourth IDB Annual Meeting held in Brazil, one of the institution’s founding members. The IDB is the oldest and largest regional development bank and the main source of multilateral development financing in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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