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Improving education in Panama

LOANS

Panama:

$58.1 million to help improve the quality, efficiency, and accessibility of education from preschool to 12th grade.

The resources will enable the Ministry of Education to modernize curricula, train teachers, develop and acquire learning materials, establish better evaluation and management systems, and improve efficiency.

Special emphasis will be placed on making basic education more accessible and relevant to indigenous and rural communities with the participation of parents' associations.

At the end of the six-year program, student scores on attainment tests are expected to rise by 20 percent and the percentage of students completing sixth grade is expected to increase from 78 percent in 1997 to 90 percent in 2002. Enrollment in preschool and higher secondary grades is also expected to rise substantially.

The total cost of the program is $73.3 million.

Regional:

$100 million to strengthen the Central American Bank for Economic Integration and to consolidate ongoing reforms.

The resources will support CABEI's efforts to gain access to international capital markets with an investment-grade rating and maintain that rating over the long term, as well as provide credit for onlending to the private sector.

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TECHNICAL COOPERATIONS

Brazil:

$4 million to make high-priority social programs more effective, efficient and equitable.

The resources will help train a large number of federal and state employees involved in the design and implementation of social policies. Funds will also be used to provide basic management tools for 25 high-priority programs at the core of the government's social development strategy.

More than 700 federal and state public servants of different levels will receive training, including advanced instruction in the IDB's Inter-American Institute for Social Development.

Technical assistance will be provided to strengthen management tools, such as information systems and performance evaluation.

The program will also establish a national network for social-sector design and management training.

The total cost of the program is $7 million.

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MULTILATERAL INVESTMENT FUND

Belize:

$792,000 to improve job placement and vocational training for youth entering the private sector work force.

The project will be the country's first effort to design, test and carry out an efficient labor market brokerage service that could be replicated within the vocational training system in the country.

At the same time, young people will receive training and technical assistance that will enable them to become business entrepreneurs as well as employees.

About 500 Belizean young people will receive training under the program, to be carried out by the Youth Start Plan.

A minimum of four intermediary training providers will be strengthened in their ability to deliver market-driven skills training, and at least 60 private firms and individual entrepreneurs are expected to participate in the program as employers, mentors, financial intermediaries and contributors to demand-driven skills training.

Guyana:

$875,000 to help increase the competitiveness of the private sector by supporting the modernization and institutionalization of a training system for middle level and technical management.

The program, to be carried out by the Consultative Association of Guyanese Industries, will introduce innovations in training in three growth sectors where employment is concentrated but competitiveness is lagging: engineering and capital goods construction, agribusiness and food processing, and services.

The program will consist of in-firm and short-term modular courses, which will be delivered by organizations such as the Guyana Management Institute and the Guyana Sugar Corporation. The University of Guyana will participate in accreditation.

As part of the program, the skills of 1,500 mid-level and technical managers will be upgraded, a cadre of qualified trainers will be developed, and a human resources management information system will be established.

Honduras:

$1.95 million grant to help small and medium-sized businesses to improve the quality of their labor force by investing in training.

The project will increase the competitiveness and productivity of companies in the construction, tourism and wood processing sectors by enhancing workforce efficiency and skills.

As an incentive for employers to invest in new training programs, the MIF resources will finance 50 percent of their cost.

The initiative, to be carried out by the Honduran Human Resources Advisory Center, also will promote a better supply of training services as a response to private sector demands.

The project will encourage a dialogue between the public and private sectors on an eventual reform of the national job training system. Two industrial groups will be selected to develop occupational performance standards, which will serve as pilot experiences for the creation of a national program of occupational standards and certification.

Mexico:

$1,767,550 to improve the productivity and competitiveness of small metalworking firms in the state of Jalisco.

The resources will finance technical assistance and staff training to support improvements in production processes and quality control.

Personnel from small firms will also be trained in the development of marketing, strategic and business plans to reach growing domestic and international markets for metal products.

Funds will also be used to support participating companies who wish to improve their environmental practices. The program is intended to strengthen the executing agency, the Instituto de Fundición y Maquinado de Jalisco.

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INTER-AMERICAN INVESTMENT CORPORATION

Regional:

$3.5 million loan to Polyproductos de Guatemala, S.A., and Manufacturera Centroamericana, S.A., to expand production of both companies and the warehousing facilities of Polyproductos.

The two companies plan to diversify their product line and target nonagricultural clients with year-around production schedules. These changes are intended to help thereby stabilize their cash-flow patterns and more fully utilize their resources throughout the year.

In addition, the companies will acquire equipment and machinery based on the latest technological advances in the polypropylene packaging industry. The United States and Canada are the chief export markets for the products, but regional export markets are growing as well.

The project, whose total cost is estimated at $7.12 million, is expected to generate 190 jobs split evenly between Guatemala and Nicaragua and generate up to $13 million in annual hard currency earnings.

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BONDS

Dollar:

$500 million issued on the Euromarket with an annual coupon of 6 3/8 percent and a maturity date of June 27, 2002.

Lehman Brothers and J. P. Morgan were the joint lead managers of a syndicate of 15 international banks for the first issue, which was priced at 101.327 percent.

Pound Sterling:

200 million pound sterling issued on the Euromarket for a three-year term and a semiannual coupon of 6.4 percent.

Yamaichi International (Europe Limited) arranged the issue, which was priced at 99.1 percent and will mature on June 26, 2000. The bonds were targeted mainly to retail investors in Japan.

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PEOPLE

Mario Marcel Cullell has been elected IDB executive director for Chile and Ecuador. He was previously the budget director of Chile's Ministry of Finance.

Luisa Rains was named chief of the Fiscal Division of the IDB's Integration and Regional Programs Department and Edmundo Jarquín was appointed chief of the State and Civil Society Division of the Strategic Planning and Operational Policy Department.

Both of these recently created divisions were previously units within their respective departments and both were previously run by Rains and Jarquín.

Saúl Hanono was named executive secretary of the IDB's Staff Retirement Plan. Hanono was previously chief of the Resource Mobilization Section in the Bank's Finance Department.

Eleanor H. Howard has been appointed head of the Office of Learning in the Administrative Department. She was deputy manager of Regional Operations Department 2. Howard is succeeded by Terry Powers, who was most recently a senior advisor in the Private Sector Department.

Bernardo Frydman has been named deputy manager in the Bank's Private Sector Department. He was the chief advisor of the same Department.

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