Address by Minister of State Kent to the Inter-American Development Bank Annual Meeting

No. 2010/12 - Cancún, Mexico - March 22, 2010

Check Against Delivery

Let me start by extending my sincerest sympathies to the representatives from Chile and Haiti. Our thoughts go out to all of those in your countries who have suffered as a result of the recent disasters you have experienced.

I recall the sombre mood when we last met in Medellín, [Colombia] in the thick of the financial crisis. A year later, even though the outlook is uncertain and risks remain, I now sense a quiet, growing confidence among us. Stronger policy frameworks and improvements in public finances have built resiliency in most of the countries of the region, and the hemisphere enters the new decade on a decidedly more solid economic footing. My country shares this mood of quiet optimism, and we expect Canada will lead the G7 in economic growth this year. 

This has already been a busy year for Canada, and it will continue to be as we move forward. The Winter Games in Vancouver have recently finished, and Canada marked its 20th anniversary of membership in the OAS [Organization of American States]. In a few months, we will host G8 and G20 leaders. Next year, we will welcome you all to Calgary for the IDB [Inter-American Development Bank] annual meeting. We hope you will enjoy first-hand Canadian hospitality, the warmth of the Canadian people, and the beauty of a Canadian winter.

The past year has presented the IDB with monumental challenges and I congratulate you, President Moreno, and your team for your efforts and dedication. Canada was pleased to support the region’s recovery by temporarily providing the IDB with US$4 billion in lending capital.  We have played what we hope has been a constructive role in deliberations on a capital increase, including co-chairing the technical working group with my Colombian friend Óscar Zuluaga [Minister of Finance and Public Credit]. 

I am pleased that this hard work has paid off, and we have arrived in Cancún with an agreement in principle to increase the Bank’s capital and fully relieve Haiti’s debt. This increase will ensure US$12 billion in lending volume for the Bank, continued resources for the FSO [Fund for Special Operations], and a solid grant facility to support Haiti and allow for the production of knowledge and capacity-building products in response to regional demand. It is now up to the IDB’s Board to make real the spirit of the agreement, and the Bank to use these resources wisely. 

We are happy that the new institutional strategy places poverty reduction, inequality and achieving sustainable economic growth at the heart of the Bank’s efforts. Management must now deliver on this strategy and the Results Framework it has set for itself. The Bank should not lose sight of the importance of ensuring that its strategies, tools and resources remain focused on assistance to the poorest. The Bank must also continue its efforts to build a stronger, more effective institution through the Better Bank Agenda. We see this as an ongoing effort and not merely a deliverable of the capital increase process. 

We are pleased with the progress made so far on the development effectiveness framework, as well as on the risk management and capital adequacy frameworks. The Bank has also made good strides in implementing a new anti-corruption strategy. The reorganization that you initiated, Mr. President [IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno], has further helped to increase the relevance of the Bank to all of its members. 

In the year to come, Canada attaches priority to seeing further progress in key areas. First, I look forward to the implementation of the income management framework and the completion of the Bank’s review of its financial instruments and sector policies. Second, as non-sovereign guaranteed lending grows, the Bank will need to demonstrate the clear link of its private-sector activities to social and economic development, including support for the principles of corporate social responsibility. Third, with the approval of the Development Effectiveness Framework and the development of the Results Framework, the Bank now has the tools in place to better monitor, measure and report on the results being achieved. It is essential that the Bank remain fully accountable to its shareholders.  At next year’s annual meeting in Calgary, we look forward to the Bank’s report on results achieved in its priority areas.

Now let me return to the situation in Haiti. Recovery will require strong regional and international cooperation and long-term resolve. Canada convened the Montreal Preparatory Conference where we agreed to a set of principles, particularly the leadership role of the Government of Haiti, to support Haiti’s recovery. 

As we leave this meeting and head for the Haiti reconstruction conference in New York, I remind everyone that our commitment to Haiti’s recovery depends on constructive, coordinated engagement.  We must work hand in hand with our Haitian neighbours to build long-term stability and establish a foundation of hope for all Haitians. Mr. President, the Bank has an important role to play in this effort.

Thank you all, and again, I look forward to welcoming you to Calgary next year.