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IDB Encourages Latin American and Caribbean countries to adopt electronic governmet technologies in state procurement

The Inter-American Development Bank today urged member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to take advantage of electronic government technologies to cut costs, gain efficiency and increase transparency in state procurement and use them as a tool for development.

In a closing speech at the two-day seminar e-Government Procurement: Lessons Learned and New Development Perspectives, IDB President Enrique V. Iglesias noted that many countries that have adopted electronic government technologies have succeeded in boosting savings, competition and productivity, as well as in thwarting corruption.

"Experience shows that savings of 20 percent are possible. But if Latin America and the Caribbean managed to save just 10 percent of what is spent on government procurement, the region would gain nearly $20 billion a year. That is equivalent to one-third of the resources it invests in health and education," he said.

Efficient, transparent governments, closely watched by citizens with access to accurate, timely information on state spending, Iglesias added, can help restore trust in public institutions and strengthen democracy.

During the seminar organized by the IDB’s Regional Operations Support Office and Sustainable Development Department, panelists presented the experiences and lessons learned by national and local governments in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico and the United Kingdom that have introduced electronic technologies to manage their procurement.

Over 250 government officials, diplomats, private sector executives, multilateral agencies specialists and transparency advocates attended the meeting held at IDB headquarters in Washington, D.C.

At the conference the IDB described a "road map" for countries interested in applying electronic government technologies to their state procurement. This reform should begin by consolidating an institutional base and then go, in successive stages, on to tendering for high-value goods and services, contract management and purchasing of low-cost, high-volume items.

To help borrowing member countries in their efforts to improve their procurement processes, the IDB this week signed a letter of intent with the state of Western Australia, a recognized leader in electronic government, to cooperate in the introduction of these technologies in the region.

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