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Speeches & Transcripts

Transcript: Q&A with media after meeting with Brazilian Development Bank President Luciano Coutinho

March 6, 2013

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


QUESTION:  What's your opinion of the Alemao area you visited?

DR. KIM:  Claudia (Costin, Secretary of Education of Rio de Janeiro) and the principal were very focused on the right things.  You know, getting children in school is one thing, making sure that they learn and making sure that they achieve at higher levels is another, and I think they're very much focused on taking the children to the next level.

I tried to give them a message today.  I was very clear about them--you know, the country I was born in, Korea, was much poorer than Brazil is right now.

So, I think, always, these schools are about giving children a sense of possibility and I was very impressed with the way that this school did it.

The transportation, you know, again, the train station and the quality of the trains that I saw, again, I was very impressed.  And the teleférico, I thought, was just an extremely creative way of solving a huge problem for people who were living in that particular community.

QUESTION:  Please, could you say about the meeting with the Brazilian BNDES President?

DR. KIM:  Yeah.  So, we spoke about many different issues.  We've had some very good luck working on public-private partnerships and we are now looking into the possibility of expanding it.  I was in Salvador and saw a wonderful experience in the Hospital Subúrbio.

And so, based on positive experiences we've had, what we're looking to do is possibly expand our work.

We also talked about Africa, and you know, of course, we are very--it's our largest region in terms of number of people and the investment, and Mr. Coutinho spoke with me in a very inspiring way about his hopes for what BNDES could do in Africa, you know, focused more on development for the sake of the African people.

And so, we are going to work on an agreement where we can work very closely together on development in Africa.

SPEAKER:  Another question.

QUESTION:  Can I ask in Portuguese?

DR. KIM:  Sure.

[Discussion in Portuguese.]

SPEAKER:  [interpreting the question in English] And if you think that the incentives and consumption are a good way to increase economic growth.

DR. KIM:  Well, you know, so the Brazilian economy grew at about .9 percent last year.

So, there, of course, is some disappointment in that number.  But our prediction is that it's going to grow 3.5 percent.

What's happened is that, because of programs like Bolsa Familia, Brasil Sem Miséria, there is more money in the hands of the poorest people and of course consumption is going up.

But we don't see those programs simply as the stimulation of consumption.  We don't see those programs as handout programs, as some have said.  We see those programs, on the one hand, as increasing the ability of the poorest to consume. 

But on the other hand, because these programs are linked to education, they're linked to health care, we see these as very critical investments in human capital. 

In any country in the world, the most important asset is human capital, and we're very encouraged at the way that Brazil is investing in human capital, because this is what is going to set the foundations for the future growth of Brazil.

SPEAKER:  Last question.

QUESTION:  How can Brazil tackle its infrastructure challenges?

DR. KIM:  So, infrastructure is a huge problem.  I mean, if you look at the infrastructure deficit, the amount of infrastructure that needs to be built over the next few years, it's in the hundreds of billions of dollars.  So, of course, the World Bank can't pay for all of that.  But what we can do is work with groups like BNDES on finding ways of leveraging our investments.  In other words, the World Bank can make some investments, BNDES can make some investments, but then we can also help to bring private sector investments into Brazil.

So, we're doing a lot of things to help deepen and broaden the capital markets here in Brazil, and we're also trying to find ways of making it very enticing for private sector entities to invest in infrastructure.

If you look at the infrastructure deficit in the world, over the next 20 or 30 years, it's as much as $50 trillion.  So, there's no way that official development assistance or the public sector can pay for all that.  So, what we need to do now is find creative ways of having more public-private partnerships and just more direct private sector investments to build the infrastructure that we need.