A Jamaica farewell to the IDB's Mr Luis Alberto Moreno

A Jamaica farewell to the IDB's Mr Luis Alberto Moreno

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

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Mr Luis Alberto Moreno demits office as president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on September 30, 2020 after 15 years at the helm of that critical western hemisphere institution.

He has done an outstanding job since he transitioned from Colombia's ambassador to the United States. During his tenure he worked with both Democratic and Republican administrations, neither of which gave the IDB the attention Latin America and the Caribbean would have liked.

Mr Moreno followed the brilliant and charismatic Mr Enrique Iglesias during whose tenure the Caribbean experienced its halcyon period in the IDB when Caribbean technicians, notably Trinidadian Mr Euric Bobb and Jamaican Mr Richard Fletcher, served in top positions.

Mr Moreno appointed Caribbean technicians — Mr Gerry Johnson and now Ms Therese Turner-Jones — to head the Caribbean Department and, for the first time, basing these individuals in Kingston, instead of Washington DC.

His stewardship continued the impeccable 50-year management of the IDB by Latin Americans. Among his achievements are the approval in 2007 of US$4.4 billion in debt relief for Bolivia, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua; the approval in 2010 of the Ninth General Capital Increase, the largest expansion of resources in the bank's history; a grant facility to help countries integrate migrants; and the response in 2020 to the novel coronavirus pandemic. This year the IDB Group is expected to approve a record US$21 billion.

Under Mr Moreno, the IDB has become a very important source of development financing for the small developing economies of Central America and the Caribbean, that is The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. The countries of the Eastern Caribbean, though not members, benefit from a facility which is disbursed by the Caribbean Development Bank.

We witnessed for ourselves the IDB's support for Jamaica during the time when our own Ambassador Dr Richard Bernal served for eight years on the board of directors, from July 2008 to June 2016, including two years as executive director for the Caribbean.

Mr Bernal was sent there by then Prime Minister Bruce Golding at a time when Jamaica was passing through a particularly difficult period with regard to foreign exchange and budget financing.

The assistance was critical because the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which Jamaica relied upon as its principal sources of finance, with the IDB playing a lesser role, did not come forth as expected. It was the IDB which stood by Jamaica consistently.

With Mr Moreno's support, Ambassador Bernal negotiated loan financing of US$2 billion, making the IDB the largest financier of Jamaica. Indeed, at the time, Jamaica was paying back more than it was borrowing. It helped that the two had been ambassador to the US for their respective countries at the same time.

That kind of support allowed the Jamaica Labour Party Administration to reduce borrowing from commercial sources, relying instead on multilateral development financing institutions, mainly the IDB, and eventually the IMF and the World Bank.

Mr Moreno leaves the IDB with the eternal gratitude of Jamaicans.


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