Media Center



  June 17, 2003

A $1.25 billion social investment Fund to address the critical social needs in the Americas is the centerpiece of a proposal that Congressman Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) presented recently, in a bill submitted to Congress.

Citing the work of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development (IACD), the bill seeks to establish a new mechanism to help Latin America and the Caribbean nations strengthen institutions as well as their capacity-building to deliver social services, with special emphasis on non-governmental organizations.

In introducing the bill, Congressman Menendez stressed in its Statement of Policy that "the challenge of achieving economic integration between one of the world's most developed economies and some of the poorest and most vulnerable countries requires a special effort to promote social equality, develop skills and build an infrastructure to enable the poorer countries and citizens of all of the Americas to derive full benefits from economic integration." The bill goes on to state its purpose as based on "a compelling need for the achievement of social and economic advancement and the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law."

Commenting on the bill, Director General Ronald Scheman of the IACD, an Organization of American States agency, commended the initiative as being urgently needed considering the financial pressures on the governments of the America's as a result of the increased expenditures required for security issues. Scheman, who was active in the conceptualization and initiation of the bill, stated that, "The viability and vitality of democracy in the Americas requires new measures to spur national consensus among government, the private sector and civil society to address the widespread poverty and respect for the rule of law in the Americas. A Free trade Agreement of the Americas makes it even more urgent, since it will be accepted only if its benefits reach all sectors of the societies. We all commend Congressman Menendez for his foresight and leadership in calling the attention of the U.S. Congress to this issue in such a forceful manner."

The bill provides for $750 million to be administered through the U.S. Agency for International Development over a six-year period, and for $500 million to be administered by the Inter-American Development Bank.

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Reference: IACD-17-03