IDB Approves Record US$21.6 Billion In Lending To Caribbean Countries In 2020

(CMC) — The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says it mounted an historic effort in 2020 to assist its 26-member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to manage the economic and social impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and lay the groundwork for recovery and sustainable growth, approving a record US$21.6 billion in new financing.

In response to unprecedented need in the region – the world’s hardest-hit by COVID-19 – the Washington-based financial institution said it “rapidly reformulated tools and fast-tracked operations” that led to increases of 11 per cent in sovereign guaranteed approvals and 55 per cent in disbursements, compared to 2019.

In all, the IDB said it approved US$12.6 billion for public-sector projects in 2020.

IDB Invest, the IDB Group’s private-sector arm, supplemented these efforts with US$9 billion, including US$6.7 in approvals and US$2.3 billion in mobilisation.

IDB Lab, the group’s innovation incubator, increased its operations by 40 per cent, from 90 projects to 126, of which 20 were pandemic-related.

“We must use this crisis as an opportunity to capitalize on the creativity, resilience and optimism that have always been our region’s hallmark,” said IDB President Mauricio Claver-Carone in a year-end address to the bank’s Board of Directors.

“We are proud that the IDB Group has contributed to many of these efforts in 2020, and we intend to be a leader in working with the region on its recovery in 2021,” he added.

The IDB said its response to the pandemic totaled US$8.076 billion, focused on financing for immediate public-health needs, safety nets for vulnerable populations, economic productivity and employment, and fiscal measures to help mitigate economic impacts.

In his State of the Bank address to the board, Claver-Carone highlighted efforts ranging from assistance to countries in securing personal protection equipment (PPE) in the early days of the pandemic to minimum-income guarantees for 750,000 older adults in Bolivia.

In addition, the bank announced that it has mobilised US$1 billion to help borrowing member-countries acquire and distribute COVID-19 vaccines.

The IDB said it also provided assistance to countries in Central America and the Caribbean that were affected by Hurricanes Eta and Iota in November.

Claver-Carone said 2021 will be “a watershed moment for the IDB Group to demonstrate its leadership in Latin America and the Caribbean”.

“We will continue to work with our governments to respond to the pandemic and focus on reigniting economic growth through job creation and greater investment in dynamic sectors, such as nearshoring and digitalisation, while also addressing climate change and gender issues,” he said.