Venezuela

International forum hears Venezuela's plans for reconstruction following natural disaster

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NR-25/00
DIRECT INQUIRIES TO:
Press: Rod Chapman (00331) 4069 3100
Public Information: (202) 623-1397 business@iadb.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 21, 2000

MADRID, Spain - Venezuela presented its strategy for the reconstruction of the country following the recent catastrophe to a meeting of the international community held in Madrid today. The International Forum on Venezuela, organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and hosted by the Spanish government, was inaugurated by His Royal Highness Prince Felipe of Asturias. President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, IDB President Enrique Iglesias and Spanish Foreign Minister Abel Matutes all made presentations calling on the international community to renew its support for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The meeting was purely informative in nature, allowing the Venezuelan government to outline the strategy is taking to overcome the disaster and its plans for the reconstruction of the worst-hit parts of the country, including opportunities for international participation and private sector investment. Torrential rains beginning in December caused devastating floods that have resulted in enormous human and physical losses, particularly in the state of Vargas.

Some 30 countries participated in the Madrid meeting, along with 24 international organizations including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), several other UN specialist agencies, the Red Cross and a number of NGOs (non-governmental organizations). Many are already assisting the Venezuelan government in its reconstruction efforts. ECLAC presented to the meeting its analysis of the impact of the tragedy.

The IDB donated $50,000 to Venezuela at the outset of the tragedy, and is re-directing loans totaling some $167 million to assist the rehabilitation efforts in the sectors of agriculture, housing, roads and education. The Bank is also preparing a loan of $20 million to help with the immediate costs of rehabilitation, and a loan of some $150 million to meet urgent requirements in sectors including drinking water, drainage and the renovation of districts inhabited by the poorest sectors of the population. The Bank is coordinating its actions with the World Bank, the Andean Development Corporation and other multilateral agencies.

The IDB annual assembly, to be held in New Orleans on March 23-29, will feature a seminar under the auspices of the Venezuelan government that will highlight the country's great potential for private sector investment in different sectors such as ports, airports, bridges and toll roads.

For further information, please contact Rod Chapman on Paris (00331) 4069 3100, fax 4069 3120, e-mail rodc@iadb.org.