Colombia’s development bank has brought in private-sector discipline

IT COSTS more to send a 40-foot container by road from Bogota, Colombia’s capital, to Buenaventura on its Pacific coast than to ship it on from Buenaventura to Shanghai. According to the World Economic Forum, Colombia’s roads are among the worst in Latin America. For more than 20 years governments have tried to improve matters, with little success. Now Colombia is trying again.Central to the latest attempt, called the Fourth Generation (4G) road-development programme, is the National Development Finance corporation (FDN), which was launched in 2013. Unlike most development banks elsewhere, it funds at most 25% of any project. It must seek out private investors, at home and abroad, and package projects to offer acceptable risks and returns. Colombia’s needs are so great, says Clemente del Valle, the FDN’s president, that it “can’t just sit around and wait till those markets are developed.”
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