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#1656: World Bank article: DR fights poverty (fwd)


I thought list members would be interested in the following report taken from 
the World Bank's Week in Review for Dec. 20-24. The Dominican Republic, the 
article says, has averaged 7.6% economic growth over the last three years but 
still has 20% of its population living in poverty. This presents a huge 
contrast to Haiti and a wider economic gap between the two countries than 
ever before, I imagine.  The consequences for immigration are clear.  Note 
that one of the five priorities listed is improve relations with Haiti and 
conditions near the border with Haiti.  

Anne Fuller

Dominican Republic Launches New Effort to Fight Poverty
Civil society wins support of political parties on top development priorities

December 22, 1999-The Dominican Republic's major political parties and opinion
leaders joined with members of civil society and the international community 
an event on Monday in Santo Domingo to celebrate a new consensus on the
country's development priorities.

At an auspicious ceremony hosted by Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y
Maestra (PUCMM), a major national university, representatives from the 
three leading political parties were presented with the policy priorities 
to by the coordinators of the parties themselves and members of civil society,
including labor groups, businesses, academia, nongovernmental organizations, 
the international community.

Flanked by political leaders and senior authorities of the Catholic Church,
Monseñor Agripino Núñez Collado, a slight bespectacled man who played a
principle role in bringing together the diverse interest groups assembled 
him, applauded the achievements of the roundtable and the presence of the
political parties. As president of PUCMM, which coordinated and managed the 
working roundtables that produced the agreements, he devoted the better part 
the past year to helping bring together a consensus for development.

"We meet the same week that the Christian world will celebrate the birth of
Christ, a time that not only brings to mind the idea of new life, but also of
hope for a better life," said Monseñor Núñez in his remarks at the ceremony.

"This is a time of the greatest wealth and of the greatest scientific and
technological advances the world has ever known, and a time of great social
inequalities. We should not only reflect about these things, but we must call 
our leaders and on ourselves, to create the conditions for the birth of a
society that is more humane, more united, more equal, and one in which peace
will lead to justice."

Prosperity coupled with persistent poverty is not a new phenomenon for the 8.3
million people of the Dominican Republic. But recently the country has been
making headlines with its estimated growth rate of 7.9 percent for 1999, 
it the fastest-growing economy in Latin America this year and with the 
performance in the Caribbean over the past decade. Over the past three years,
the country has averaged 7.6 percent growth. Despite the booming economy, and
despite having one of the lowest poverty rates in the region, 20 percent of 
population lives below the poverty line.

The agreement calls for political parties to pursue five policy priorities in
the country: social policies to combat poverty; economic policies for
development; policies to modernize the state; policies to safeguard the 
environment; and policies to reduce poverty along the country's border with
Haiti and to strengthen Dominican and Haitian relations.

Everyone at the event agreed that political will is key to ensuring that the
many months of hard work devoted to the agreements will not be in vain.

"The credibility of the agreement hinges on the political will down the road,"
said Hugo Pirela, representative of the InterAmerican Bank for Development in
Santo Domingo, one of the organizations that participated in the roundtables.
"We and the World Bank have a great stake in this initiative, so we hope the
agreements will hold. Political will is one of a number of reasons why the
country doesn't absorb more resources, but it is high on that list."

"Bringing in the political partners will ensure the sustainability of the
agreements," concurred Caribbean Country Director Orsalia Kalantzopoulos. "Now
you have a broad-based agenda and people having agreed not only on broad
principles, but also in detail on what they want to do. Each one of these
principals has tremendous merit."

For the World Bank, the agreements mark a turning point in the launching of a
pilot Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF) in the country. The CDF is the
Bank's new holistic approach to development, based on broad civil society
participation and where governments lead the way with support from 
partners. The Bank is supporting one other CDF effort in the Latin America and
Caribbean region, launched six months ago in Bolivia.

The World Bank supported the Dominican initiative through a grant that helped
finance activities related to organizing and facilitating the seminars and
roundtable discussions that culminated in Monday's forum. International
development partners that participated in the initiative include the
Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the
US Agency for International Development, Spanish Cooperation, GTZ, and the
European Union.

"The fact that there were so many people involved in these discussions really
helped to focus attention of the opinion-setters of this country on all kinds 
issues important to development," said USAID´s Director for the Dominican
Republic, Edward Kadunc. "The fact that the parties all participated in the
roundtables means that these things are on their minds, that everyone is 
about the same things. And this development agenda really represents what all 
us are interested in, the core development objectives of the country."

"We're very happy with this process," said World Bank Vice President David de
Ferranti, speaking to reporters following the ceremony. "It allowed all the
parties and participants to share their ideas and find common solutions, but 
is one step in a long process. Our main reason for supporting this initiative
was in response to requests from the Dominican Republic to have this 

"The next step is to keep working toward implementation," said John Panzer, a
lead economist for the Dominican Republic, who worked closely with the
university to support the initiative. "There is a good set of concrete 
They could make a difference; the challenge is to implement them."

The agreements provide for a permanent secretary consisting of the same
representatives and coordinated by the PUCMM to now work on the technical
aspects of implementing the policies.

Helpful links: For more information, email or call Joelle Dehasse, author of
this article, at jdehasse@worldbank.org, 202/458-5437.

To learn more about the Bank's work in the Dominican Republic, go to
http://wbln0018.worldbank.org/external/lac/lac.nsf and select "news and 
then the Dominican Republic.