Friday, 25 February 2011

Bank of ALBA begins fourth year

Bank of ALBA, a Financial Institution for Regional Integration
by Waldo Mendiluza, 7 February 2011.
Source: Prensa Latina.

As the result of efforts for regional integration and social development, the Bank of the ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, began its fourth year of operations with ambitious projects to create a new financial architecture, a new way of doing banking.
With the objective of reducing asymmetries, the institution founded in 2008 by Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela is promoting the so-called "Gran Nacional" or Great Nation projects, which by their very name, are distant from the transnational banking corporations.

"The Bank of ALBA is distinguished from the traditional way of doing banking, because its purpose is social investment for eradicating poverty and inequality, the bank's executive secretary, Venezuelan Amenothep Zambrano, explained to Negocios en Cuba magazine.

To that end, the bank will allocate more than 30 million USD in 2011 for education, culture and health projects, Zambrano said.

The Bank of ALBA is also financing Gran Nacional projects in telecommunications, food, the environment, tourism and energy. Some of these very important projects include democratizing information and communication technology, the reforestation depredated areas, and the development of renewable energy sources, Zambrano told Negocios en Cuba.

In the case of food, the bank is supplying 50 million USD. Based on that fund, the ALBA hopes to boost production of agricultural supplies, such as seeds, fertilizers, bio-pesticides, and equipment and irrigation systems.

"We have many expectations around this project, because the investment is beginning to produce its first fruits, with a list of pharmaceutical products that can now be manufactured at low cost to the benefit of traditionally marginalized people of the region," he said.

Solidarity with devastated Haiti is also present in the Bank of ALBA, via a 50 million USD reconstruction fund.

"We have here a new kind of financial institution, which seeks regional integration and places the well-being of human beings and the reduction of inequality at the top of its agenda," Zambrano said.

Its education initiatives have achieved recognized success, such as the literacy campaign, which has benefited more than three million people in the region, he said.

Ecuador and Nicaragua are receiving support for their efforts to become illiteracy-free, and Bolivia is being assisted with its post-literacy and other projects for increasing education battling school drop-out rates, the official said.

Culture will also be at the center of integration policies this year for the ALBA, created in December 2004 by the leaders of Cuba and Venezuela, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez.

The Bank of ALBA is financing programs that boost the unity of creators, artists, intellectuals, institutions and social movements, as opposed to alienating pseudo-cultural currents, he said.