BUENOS AIRES, March 19, 2012 –The power of opportunity as a tool to move the country forward took center stage in Argentina following a meeting of World Bank top officials and President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Fresh from attending high-level meetings at the IDB's Montevideo Governor's Assembly , World Bank Vice-president for Latin America & The Caribbean, Hasan Tuluy paid a courtesy visit to Fernandez that drew the pair into discussions on how to sustain economic growth and social inclusion programs.
"We had a very fluid and constructive conversation where we agreed on the top priorities for action in the Bank's support to Argentina –which is driven by an idea to expand opportunities for progress for all Argentines," Tuluy said after the meeting at the Presidential Palace or Casa Rosada.
Empowering ordinary Argentines with economic opportunity is at the core of the new strategic partnership with Argentina, being discussed in close coordination with government officials. The new long-haul plan will deepen the Bank's support to projects improving the well being of poor Argentines, especially in terms of basic services. Recent social gains have been significant: unemployment rate has hovered around 7.3 percent following job creation programs and policies. Social safety nets –such as the Universal Child Allowance- have provided a cushion for 3.6 million people or 9 percent of total population.
World Bank regional Vice president Hasan Tuluy with President Cristina Fernandez
Improving the country's economic outlook is also a central part of the overall Bank support. Modernizing infrastructure and boosting innovation so the economy provides more added value and inclusive growth are some of the plan's strategic goals.
"We congratulated President Fernandez on the social and economic progress made in the past few years, but we also see a need for the Bank to deepen our social support," Tuluy noted. "We have been with Argentina in good times and bad times, like a good partner should," he added.
Currently the Bank supports 36 projects worth US$7 billion in Argentina, including Plan Nacer the Universal Child Allowance, (Asignación Universal por Hijo), which provide vital income, health and nutrition support to children and their parents. On the environment and infrastructure fronts, the cleanup Matanza Riachuelo project and Norte Grande stand out.
Tuluy and Fernandez also discussed Argentina's increasing international and regional roles, especially within the G-20 framework. Tuly offered the Bank's extensive good will to foster South- South exchanges dialogues on areas where Argentina has developed social protection approaches that are relevant for other countries.
The World Bank's top regional official also met with Argentina's finance minister Hernan Lorenzino, and Planning Minister, Julio De Vido.