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Can the Venezuelan Opposition Create Citizen-Owners to Unseat the Chavistas?

This is a joint post with Stephanie Majerowicz. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hasn’t appeared in public since his cancer surgery last December and, given his sharply deteriorating health, it seems a safe bet that the country will be having another national election sooner rather than later. When that happens, the opposition will have a rare opportunity outflank the populist Chavistas and offer voters a share in the country’s oil wealth through direct payments of part of the revenue (see the recent WSJ article). Such a program has the twin advantages of being potentially hugely popular and of reducing corruption, strengthening accountability and curbing waste. Here at CGD we call this idea “oil-to-cash.”

The Eyes Have It! Development and the Biometrics Revolution

The “identity gap” is large, but it’s closing. Over the past 10 years, developing countries from Afghanistan to Zambia—and the donors that support them—have begun to focus on identity systems. Some have sought to create or extend national identification to cover large populations that previously could not exercise basic rights or access services due to a lack of official documentation. Others have reformed government and NGO programs by creating robust identification to improve quality, increase accessibility and eliminate fraud.

Debt Deal Reunites Myanmar and the Donors

In the last few days, a delicate dance of reconciliation between Myanmar and its estranged foreign creditors reached its final measures. At the Club de Paris---the collective negotiating forum for creditor governments such as Japan and the United States---a press release just announced a debt deal with the poor and long-isolated Asian nation. The creditors committed to what is by Paris Club standards an exceptionally generous deal: cancelling half the debt in arrears---Myanmar defaulted in 1998---and instituting a 15-year repayment schedule for the remainder, including a 7-year grace period. Because the interest rates on most of these the loans are low, typically about 1%, this stretching out of repayment further reduces the debt's economic cost ("net present value" or NPV). Overall, the NPV will fall 60%. Meanwhile the World Bank and Asian Development Bank made their first loans to Myanmar in more than 20 years, in the process erasing their own arrears issues with the country.

A New WTO Leader: Will It Matter for Development?

While the World Trade Organization is not normally seen as a development organization, a strong, rules-based trade system is still critically important for developing countries, and the WTO is at the center of that system. Later this year, the organization will select a new leader to succeed Pascal Lamy and the expectation is that the person will be from a developing country.

A New Liquidity Fund for Latin America -- Liliana Rojas Suarez

In December, members of the Latin American Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee (CLAAF) convened at CGD to discuss global financial and monetary developments affecting Latin America. The CLAAF, which meets here twice a year, usually offers policy and regulatory recommendations for finance ministers. central bankers and financial regulators in the region. This time the committee proposed something quite different: the five-page statement CLAAF issued after two days of deliberation recommended the creation of a new regional financial institution—a Latin American Liquidity Fund, to supplement the efforts of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) when the next global financial crisis hits.

The Tables Turn: Questions for Kerry’s SECSTATE Confirmation Hearing

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) will join his fellow members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a routine confirmation hearing on January 24, but this time he won’t be holding the gavel.  Instead, as President Obama’s nominee to be the next secretary of state, Sen. Kerry will take questions from the committee on how he would carry out the Obama administration's foreign policy priorities.

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