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Emergencies and reform mark 1999 IDB lending

The Inter-American Development Bank approved $9.46 billion in loans during 1999, nearly half of which was emergency funding to help countries cope with global financial volatility.

The lending total was the second highest in the Bank’s history and marks the sixth year in a row that the IDB was the chief source of multilateral credit to Latin America and the Caribbean. The year-end summary was presented by IDB President Enrique V. Iglesias to the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on December 15.

Also during 1999 the IDB disbursed $8 billion for previously approved loans, a record amount for a single year.
Besides the emergency lending, last year’s approvals reflected a continuing emphasis on social reform and modernization of the state. The Bank also approved substantial financing for natural disaster prevention and reconstruction in The Bahamas, Belize, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru.

In his report to the executive directors, Iglesias said the IDB loan portfolio was “generally performing well,” with 90 percent of the projects expected to achieve their development objectives.

Forty-four percent of the Bank’s active portfolio of $45.1 billion is allocated to social investments, 22 percent for infrastructure, 19 percent for reform and modernization of the state, and 15 percent for productive sectors and other areas.

Lending and loan guarantees prepared by the IDB’s Private Sector Department reached a record $634.7 million for 1999 and syndicated loans prepared by that department totaled $499.2 million.

Iglesias highlighted the growing importance of the IDB’s nonfinancial services. One example is the Bank’s role in chairing the 1999 Stockholm meeting of the Consultative Group on the Reconstruction and Transformation of Central America, where more than $9 billion in pledges were mobilized in the wake of Hurricane Mitch.

Looking ahead, Iglesias said the three great challenges facing the region are to boost investment in human capital and social sectors, modernize the state, and increase competitiveness and efficiency. He called exports and savings the “two Achilles heels of the region.”

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