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Private Sector Forum opens in Paraguay, highlighting the role of public-private partnerships in the fight against poverty

  June 2, 2014

The Tenth Private Sector Forum opened in Asunción, Paraguay today under the slogan of “The Americas on the Changing World Economic Stage: the Role of Public-Private Partnerships.” The event is being held in conjunction with the 44th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) and is organized jointly by the host country, the OAS, and the Paraguayan Industrial Union (UIP).

In attendance at the opening ceremony were the President of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes, the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, and the President of the UIP, Eduardo Felippo. The three agreed on the potential for promoting cooperation between the business sector and government to move forward in the fight against poverty and inequality, and to contribute to the economic development of nations.

In his remarks, Secretary General Insulza pointed out the economic milestones reached in Latin America and the Caribbean over the past decade. He noted that during that time “more than 50 million people managed to escape from poverty and, according to data from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), poverty in the region dropped significantly from 43.9% in 2002 to 28.8% in 2012.” He added that “this, together with the region’s rapid emergence from the 2008-2009 financial crisis, has caused an understandable feeling of optimism, leading some to declare this ‘the decade’ or even ‘the century’ of Latin America.”

“There have also been strides regarding democracy: open, pluralistic, and competitive elections have been a common feature throughout Latin America since the early 1990s. While during the fifteen years between 1990 and 2005 eighteen governments were not able to conclude their established terms, between 2006 and 2013 this occurred only twice, with the sole coup d’état taking place in Honduras in 2009,” asserted the leader of the hemispheric institution.

However, he continued, despite these accomplishments we must acknowledge that “they alone have not had the effect of making our societies more egalitarian.” He reminded the audience that one third of the total population of Latin America still lives off a household income of between 4 and 10 dollars a day, while the wealthiest 10% of the population enjoys 32% of total income at the same time that the poorest 40% receives only 15% of the wealth.

When discussing how public-private partnerships can help reduce poverty and vulnerability, Secretary General Insulza asserted that many distribution issues have to do with public policy. “We need the assistance of the private sector to create jobs. And it is clear that emerging from poverty often requires the ability to count on a permanent, decent job,” he said. “The big challenge for policy is to establish a basis of confidence and find the proper balance, within the rule of law, between the needs for growth and the reduction of inequality.” He concluded by stating that in order to find such a balance, “we must work together and in coordination, and this is where public-private partnerships have the most important role to play.”

The President of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes, opened his remarks by explaining that his country wants to position itself as “a safe place for public-private investment.” He called upon business owners to become key players in the effort to bring development to his country, and to do so with social justice. “This is a unique time for the global economy in which Paraguay can take the stage to tap into great opportunities for development. Today, more than ever before, policies in line with the twenty-first century world economy are needed, in which the private sector will play a central role as an engine for sustainable and inclusive economic growth,” said the President.

President Cartes recalled that in the current context it is imperative to have a better public-private dialogue in order to effectively face the challenges before countries and consolidate the progress achieved, particularly in terms of reducing poverty and inequality.

The head of state made specific reference to his country, mentioning that at the end of last year the national legislature passed a law on public-private partnerships, “which allows Paraguay to position itself well vis-à-vis its brethren in the hemisphere and the world, giving the government a formidable tool for the economic development of our nation.” He predicted that the results of this initiative would bring benefits to all. “There are obvious advantages for both sides, from fostering productivity and competitiveness, to fighting poverty, disease, and illiteracy,” he affirmed.

Finally, the President of the country hosting the 44th General Assembly stressed how in recent years the OAS “has led efforts to blaze a trail towards productive dialogue with essential stakeholders in the private sector and in civil society. The Private Sector Forum is one of the few formal spaces for public-private dialogue in the Americas. Since its establishment in 2005, the Forum has been used as a tool to promote competitiveness and create jobs,” he concluded.

The President of the UIP, Eduardo Felippo, then presented the agenda of the Tenth Forum. He explained the great need to create infrastructure in virtually all of the countries of the region, which has caused public-private partnerships “to become a key issue for development. Today it is a tool for promoting projects that can reduce poverty and help integrate the countries of the region.”

While speaking about Paraguay specifically, the President of the UIP recalled the commitment of the government and the country’s business sector to maintaining economic stability by respecting foreign investment. They will foster “healthy policies that allow the market to flow, which has become one of the most essential elements to help the national private sector grow.” He also cited the efforts of President Horacio Cartes’ administration to set an annual foreign investment target of 2.5 billion dollars, in order to establish the country as a hub of business and trade in the Americas.

The representative of the Industrial Union also explained that the conclusions of the Forum, in which more than 300 business owners are participating, will be incorporated into a Private Sector Declaration which will be presented to the Foreign Ministers participating in the General Assembly set to open on June 3rd under the theme “Development with Social Inclusion.”

The Tenth Forum will address issues related to the Public Private Partnership (PPP) for Economic Dynamism and Open Dialogue of Chief Executive Officers and Senior Government authorities. The agenda includes remarks by Albert Ramdin, Assistant Secretary General of the OAS; Matthieu Pigasse, CEO of Lazard France; Rubén Lopéz Barrera, Vice-President and Director of Strategic Planning for ICA Mexico; Martín Eurkian, Director of Cooperación América in Argentina; and Silvio Leifert, Superintendent of Business Management at SABESP, Brasil.

Also on the agenda are Gustavo Leite, Minister of Industry and Trade of Paraguay; José Molinas Vega, Minister and Executive Secretary of Paraguay; Stephen Beatty, Member of the Board of Directors and Chief of Global Infrastructure for the Americas and India of KPMG Canada; Ingo Ploger, President of CEAL-Brasil, Bhoendradatt Tewarie, Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development of Trinidad and Tobago; Micael Penfold, Director of Public Policies and Competitiveness at CAF; Lorena Méndez de Gustafson, Vice-Minister of MyMYPES of Paraguay; Alberto Alemán Zubieta, former Administrator of the Panama Canal; Monique Smith, from Ontario’s Office in Washington; Jean-Marc Aboussouan, Chief of Infrastructure at the Inter-American Development Bank; and Gustavo Villegas del Solar, Secretary General of Proinversión Perú, among others.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The B-Roll of the event will be available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-219/14