Domincan Republic borrows US$19.4M

WASHINGTON, United States, September 18, 2007 – The minister of finance of the Dominican Republic, Vicente Bengoa, and the World Bank’s Director for the Caribbean, Caroline Anstey, signed today a loan agreement for US$19.4 million to enhance social and economic opportunities for disadvantaged Dominicans.

The Social Protection Project, approved by the World Bank’s Executive Board on August 2, 2007, includes matching funds for US$2.6 million and aims at helping undocumented and poor Dominicans to get identity documents and gain access to government education, nutrition, training, and health insurance programs.

“The main goal of this loan is to help very poor Dominicans be included in and benefit from existing social protection programs,” said Caroline Anstey, during the agreement’s signature ceremony.

“We must develop access and inclusion mechanisms for the most disadvantaged,”
she added.

Additionally, Vicente Bengoa said that the loan “will support the Government’s poverty reduction efforts and, at the same time, improve social equality.”

He pointed out that “issuing identity documents for the almost 400,000 undocumented Dominicans is a priority for this administration, as their situation prevents them from accessing basic social services.”

Specifically, the Social Protection Project focuses on improving the coverage, targeting and efficiency of social protection programs by issuing identification documents to poor Dominicans, strengthening institutional targeting mechanisms, and enhancing monitoring and evaluation efforts.

In order to support the government’s efforts to improve governance and accountability of the public institutions in charge of social protection programs, the new project will support the rehabilitation and automation of the Civil Registry’s Office as well as the upgrading and provision of technical assistance to the Office of Birth’s Registry and three Civil Registry’s mobile offices.

The project will also bring paralegal support to the Office of the Attorney General and the Supreme Court of Justice in order to enhance the efficiency and outcomes at issuing identity documents. Formal monitoring and surveillance mechanisms by the civil society will also be implemented.

This new Social Protection Project is part of the Country Assistance Strategy for the Dominican Republic, which makes available financial assistance of up to US$360 million between 2006 and 2009 as well as technical assistance and services.

The strategy highlights the need to improve the country’s competitiveness and social equality by investing in human development and access to basic services.

The US$19.4 million project is a loan of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development of the World Bank’s Group and includes a 17-year repayment period with a five-year grace period.