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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 April 2006, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
Americas bankers' debt challenge
Evo Morales and Luis Alberto Moreno
Mr Morales has been urging Mr Moreno for debt relief
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has said debt relief is possible in South and Central America, but only if the bank can be made more agile.

The IDB's president, Luis Alberto Moreno, was speaking in Brazil during the institution's annual meeting.

Mr Moreno said the IDB's funds were not trickling down to the poorest people.

Mr Moreno was responding partly to calls from Evo Morales, Bolivia's president, to eliminate $3.5bn (2bn) in regional debt.

Mr Morales had called for a portion of the $3.5bn debt owed by Bolivia, Haiti, Honduras, Guyana and Nicaragua be written off.

We will make the bank more agile, reducing the time between the approval and the disbursement of loans
Luis Alberto Moreno, IDB head

The challenge for Mr Moreno will be how to use loans most effectively in a region where economic progress has been much slower than in many parts of Asia, analysts say.

More agility

Bolivia owes the majority - 48% - of the total debt to the IDB, according to Brazil's governmental newswire.

"I want to create a bank that is closer to its clients, the people of Latin America, and I will foster decentralisation," said Mr Moreno.

"Secondly, we will make the bank more agile, reducing the time between the approval and the disbursement of loans."

Mr Moreno also voiced his support for infrastructure projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The US delegate to the meeting in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, said more loans needed to be given to private companies.

More than 90% of job creation in the region comes from small and medium sized companies, said a US Treasury Department official.

Opposition

Mr Moreno is facing pressure from environmental and indigenous rights groups, who argue that the bank's loans do not help out the poor but do cause environmental disaster.

Of particular concern has been the bank's financing of the Camisea project, a gas pipeline in Peru's Amazon.

It has leaked five times since it started pumping gas in 2004 and the bank has provided $135bn for the project.

Opposition groups at the meeting are hoping to stop the bank from providing further funding of up to $400bn, to provide money for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in the Amazon.




SEE ALSO:
Bolivian leader seeks debt relief
03 Apr 06 |  Business
Bolivia takes control of airports
31 Mar 06 |  Americas
Bolivia to write new constitution
07 Mar 06 |  Americas
Moreno named Americas bank chief
27 Jul 05 |  Business
Latino workers 'send $38bn home'
28 Mar 04 |  Business


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