Colombia’s government has created a four-year plan to develop the impoverished Pacific region, which includes a fund for $400 million.
The plan — officially named “We are all Pacific” – has been nicknamed the region’s very own “Marshall Plan” by the National Planning Department (DNP).
This refers to the Marshall Plan pushed by the US post-World War II, which ambitiously aimed to pull Europe out of the devastation and to curb the spread of Communism.
This type of lifeline is what Colombia’s national government hopes to achieve through their four-year-long plan for the Pacific.
The region was selected because for the government, it appears the furthest behind levels of development nationally. Poverty levels in the area are 34.6%, while the national average is 21%, according to government statistics.
Amongst the goals of the government is the reduction of infant mortality rates from 24.79% to 18.5%, and the increase in vaccination coverage from 81.1% to 95%.
The DNP included in the roadmap the consolidation of management for the region to kick-start the action, together with the creation of an autonomous fund “that allows the rescue of the potential of the region; rich in biodiversity, water resources, culture and ethnicity,” according to the DNP.
$400 million fund
“The management will receive $400 million, as confirmed by the government during the meeting with the political factions,” reported the DNP.
Financial sources include the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank.
Sub-director of Public Investment for DNP Manuel Fernando Castro explained that “a large part will come from loan resources with multilateral banks; World Bank and the IDB. Around $400 million is expected to come from these sources.”
The other resources, he added, will come from the national budget.
The assets will be ascribed to the Ministry of Finance, who will also chair the board of the fund. Castro explained that the executive director will be appointed by the board, which will also feature the participation of two governors and two mayors from the area, and three delegates from the President.
The aim, according to Castro, is that these representatives are from the private sector, and “largely knowledgeable of the necessities and potential of the region.”
The Colombian Federation of Municipalities is precisely dissatisfied with the structure of the board. Executive Director Gilberto Toro said that there should be greater local autonomy in the management of the fund, as those people understand the existent mechanisms in place that could lead to a more efficient execution of the plan.
“The board should have a majority presence of local leaders,” said Toro.
However, the Democratic Center party is not on board to the same degree.
Democratic Center Senator Ivan Duque told El Espectador that although they have “given backing to the Pacific and support everything involving special coverage programs” for the region, the party has doubts about the financial sources, as well as the implementation capacity.
Duque worries the initiative could simply symbolize a “salute to the flag” that subsequently “does not turn into reality.”
“Plan Marshall” para el Pacífico (El Espectador)