Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 20th 2017 Contents Arecession would not deter
the Inter-American Devel-
opment bank (IDB) from
providing financial support
to any of the 29 countries in
which the bank has a pres-
Nuria Simo, chief information officer and
general manager, department of information
technology at IDB, said when countries have
financial problems it is institutions like the
IDB that are greatly needed. She added that
one of the bank's main objectives is to reduce
poverty and fight inequality.
"Precisely when there are problems is
when we want to be more active to mitigate
the impact that a recession or crisis can have.
A recession bothers us like everyone else and
that's when we have to step up," Simo said
in an interview with Business Guardian, last
Wednesday, at the IDB's 17 Alexandra Street,
St Clair headquarters.
According to the IDB's website, the bank
defines itself as: "the leading source of de-
velopment financing for Latin America and
the Caribbean. We provide loans, grants, and
technical assistance; and we conduct extensive
research. We maintain a strong commitment to
achieving measurable results and the highest
standards of increased integrity, transparen-
cy, and accountability. Its current focus areas
include three development challenges: social
inclusion and inequality, productivity and in-
novation, and economic integration."
Asked what are some of the challenges the
bank faces, Simo said it is to "stay focused on
its mission and to become faster and more ef-
ficient as well as to deliver more with less."
Referring specifically to how the bank gets
accountability after assisting a country fi-
nancially, Simo said the bank has a method
to measure the impact of the project.
All parties, she said, come to an agreement
about what the output of the project would be
as well as other specifics of the project. Projects
can range from building a road, to providing
funding for infrastructure projects such as
airports as well as water and sanitation.
According to its 2016 annual report, the IDB
approved a total of 86 sovereign-guaranteed
loans for a total financing amount of US$9.3
billion. In terms of country departments, 39
per cent of approved financing was allocated
to Central American countries, Mexico, Pan-
ama, and Dominican Republic, 34 per cent to
Southern countries, 23 per cent to Andean
Group countries, and 4.o per cent to Carib-
With more than three decades of experience
in a leadership role across multiple industries
including the IDB, Simo said one of the les-
sons learned is there is always one common
denominator: the human being.
"No matter where you go at the end of the
day, what you are managing is people and
whatever you are doing, you are doing it for
people. It doesn't matter if you are an IT pro-
fessional, scientist or marketing professional.
At the end of the day it is about people."
Having worked with varying teams through
her professional career, Simo said the art of
leadership is to find what motivates people.
Having diversity in the background or expe-
rience in an employee is the main factor that
brings value to a team because that's how crit-
ical thinking is developed.
Interaction with different countries across
different cultures is not an obstacle, she said
because, "I think it is important when you go to
a country to make sure you learn the language
of that country. When you speak the language,
or you understand the language, you under-
stand the culture. The language has lessons
that tell you about the culture."
Simo is a graduate of the Universidad Central
de Barcelona, and has a bachelors in econom-
ics and business administration. She has held
chief information officer positions in Spain,
Barcelona, Netherlands, US and the UK.
In her role as mother of two and a leader in
her household, as well as her leadership roles
in her professional career, Simo said now that
her daughters are 35 and 28 respectively being
a mom defines her more than all the leadership
roles she has played.
"There are stories that prove it is true that
different genders have different leadership
styles but it does not mean that one or the
other has better leadership skills."
Simo added that women have not been in the
professional world for a long time so, "we are
catching up. In the past, there were not many
role models for women to think they could be
at a leadership position."
What is clear now, she said, is the importance
of having role models for young girls so they
can see what is possible or available when it
comes to holding a leadership position.
Weighing in on her professional experience,
Simo said mentoring is important.
"At the IDB we do mentorship not only with
women but we do mentorship programmes for
men and women at all levels."
BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt APRIL 20 • 2017
IDB's chief information officer:
Growth returns to Caribbean and Latin America
The World Bank says that countries in the
Caribbean and Latin America are now pur-
suing counter-cyclical fiscal policies , in that
they spending more in bad times and saving
in good times.
In it's semiannual report for the region en-
titled "Leaning against the Wind: Fiscal Po-
lice in Latin America and the Caribbean in a
, the Washington based
institution argues that the transformation is
significant for a region that has often pursued
pro-cyclical spending; increasing the risks of
overheating economies during boom times and
making recessions deeper during the bad times.
According to the Consensus Forecasts, gross
domestic product (GDP) in the region is ex-
pected to grow by 1.5 per cent this year and 2.5
per cent in 2018, putting an end to six years of
an economic downturn, including recession
over the past two years.
The bank says if they materialise, recoveries
expected in Brazil and Argentina will largely
fuel the return to growth in the region.
"Mexico's growth is expected to hover at
around 1.4 per cent, while Central America
and the Caribbean will maintain steady growth
of around 3.8 per cent."
However, the World Bank says the fiscal ac-
counts of many countries have suffered due
to the prolonged slowdown.
"As of 2016, 29 out of 32 countries were
facing fiscal deficits, largely due to higher
spending. The median gross debt for the re-
gion stands at 50 per cent of GDP."
However, the institution says that in a signif-
icant break with the past; many countries now
find themselves in a better position to escape
this difficult fiscal predicament, according to
"Countries in Latin America and the Car-
ibbean have traditionally been pro-cyclical,
either because of political pressures to spend
during good times or lack of access to inter-
national capital during bad times," said Carlos
Végh, World Bank Chief Economist for Latin
America and the Caribbean.
"As a result, they often found themselves
caught in a fiscal procyclicality trap, leading to
higher public debt and fiscal deficits as well as
lower credit ratings that left them few options
to turn things around."
In response to the global financial crisis of
2008, the number of countries with a coun-
tercyclical fiscal policy increased from 10 to
45 per cent of the region's economies.
Countries such as Chile, Colombia, Costa
Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Par-
aguay, and Peru begun to increase public
spending and/or lower taxes in an attempt to
stimulate the economy.
The bank says while such measures pro-
duced fiscal deficits, they were the result of
a concerted effort to minimise the downturn.
On the other hand, countries that continued
with pro-cyclical policies must now further
consolidate their fiscal accounts to minimise
the risks of deterioration in their credit rat-
ings and an increase in borrowing costs, the
"While countries may still find it tempting
to spend rather than save in the next boom
cycle, the events of the last decade in fiscal
policy give us hope that countries will play it
safe instead and be prudent," said Végh.
"In an external environment characterised
by frequent shocks and volatility, such pru-
dence will allow them to turn fiscal policy
into instruments to help cope with the next
downturn and preserve social gains."
chief information officer and general manager, department of information technology, IDB
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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