Finance ministers from Americas to meet on economic crisis

July 1, 2009

    By Rodrigo Martinez
   SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Finance ministers from the Americas and leaders from multilateral lenders will huddle in Chile on Friday to evaluate their responses thus far to the global economic crisis and figure out the way ahead.
   Chilean Finance Minister Andres Velasco told Reuters that turbulence has shown the International Monetary Fund and World Bank need more resources for the slump.
   He also said he hopes the elected government of Honduras will be represented at the meeting in Chile after a military coup in the Central American country on Sunday that has been widely condemned by the international community.
   “We will discuss counter-cyclical fiscal policies and the impact these have had,” Velasco said of the meeting in the Chilean coastal city of Vina del Mar, which is being held as economies in the region suffer their sharpest downturns in years.
   “Secondly, we need to think about how we can prepare countries for the post-crisis world. This implies taking steps to improve productivity and, for example, financing for infrastructure and construction.”
   Chile, the world’s No. 1 copper producer, has won praise for building up savings from high metals prices during boom times and using the cash for an economic stimulus package.
   Top executives from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank will also be at the meeting.
   Some countries in the region have looked for credits from multilateral lenders to help weather the crisis.
   “It’s important for the IMF, for example, to have the resources in the short-term so that countries don’t have liquidity problems — Chile hasn’t had trouble but other countries have,” he said.
    “The World Bank and IADB should also have more resources so they can loan out money faster for infrastructure and productivity programs.”
   Velasco was asked if finance ministers would issue a statement supporting ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.
   “There is a widely shared commitment to preserving democratic institutions in Honduras and this means that I hope the democratic government of Honduras can be represented at the meeting,” he said.
   World Bank President Robert Zoellick said on Tuesday that the lender has “paused” all loan programs to Honduras because of the political turmoil there.
   Friday will be the second meeting of finance ministers from the Americas after one held in Mexico in 2008. (Editing by Leslie Adler)

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