Panama City, November 26, 2018—Georgina
Baker, IFC Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, today begins
a trip to Panama to discuss private investment in priority areas such as
housing for lower income families, logistics, improvements in water and
sanitation, and access to finance for small and medium entrepreneurs. At
$938 million, IFC’s committed portfolio in Panama is the largest among
Central American countries.
Baker will meet with Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice President of
Panama, and Eyda Varela de Chinchilla, Panama’s Minister of Economy and
Finance, to discuss the country’s development needs, including the mobilization
of private capital and the implementation of public-private partnerships
to deliver quality public services that support inclusive growth.
“Panama has one of the fastest growing economies in the world,” Baker
said. “It has made significant strides in reducing poverty. Still, disparities
remain, especially in rural and remote areas. Sustaining growth will require
Panama to mobilize private investments that enhance productivity—and quality
Luc Grillet, IFC Senior Manager for Central America and the Caribbean,
and other IFC executives will join Baker.
During her visit, Baker will also meet with representatives of the banking
sector to discuss financing for energy and resource efficiency, small and
medium entrepreneurs, and affordable housing. One in four Panamanians lives
in substandard housing and Panama's mortgage market is underdeveloped.
Access to finance is also limited. Less than 20 percent of small businesses
have a line of credit or bank loan, compared with 38 percent for Latin
America as a region.
Baker, who covers Europe and Central Asia in addition to Latin America
and the Caribbean, will meet with clients from the infrastructure and energy
sectors. IFC has been especially active in ports and logistics projects
and in helping diversify Panama’s energy matrix by financing clean energy
initiatives, such as the Penonomé wind farm and AES Colon, the first
integrated liquified natural gas-to-power project in Central America. IFC
is also actively supporting the country’s public-private partnership agenda.
For instance, the organization has been advising ETESA, the state’s electric
transmission company, to prepare an international bid for the construction
and operation of the country's fourth transmission line.
During this first trip to Central America as Regional Vice President, Baker
will also visit Costa Rica and Honduras, highlighting IFC’s commitment
to the region. In Central America, IFC has a committed investment portfolio
of $2.6 billion in high-impact private sector projects. Last year, IFC’s
clients in Central America supported 11,450 jobs, generated electricity
for 850,000 people, and provided $3.8 billion in financing for micro, small
and medium entrepreneurs.
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank
Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private
sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide,
using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities
in the toughest areas of the world. In fiscal year 2018, we delivered more
than $23 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging
the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared
prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org