Karin Klert, who as of July 1 is the new World Bank Governor for Costa Rica and El Salvador, arrived in the region with a bag of ideas for these countries based on her research and global experience.
Klert has a Ph. North.
In an interview with The nation He shared some of his ideas. Here’s a summary:
– What motivated you to work with our countries, Costa Rica and El Salvador?
-When I had the opportunity to work for Costa Rica and El Salvador, I did not hesitate to use it. For many years I have been interested in working in analysis and operational support in Latin America.
“Although I am French and have completed much of my studies in London, my Latin American soul shines through when I interact with my colleagues, always with respect and sensitivity. I also believe that because of my work experience in other Latin American countries, I can contribute knowledge that favors development.
“Costa Rica and El Salvador are very different countries, but both share the desire to achieve concrete and rapid results to improve the living conditions of their people. After two years of the pandemic, both countries now have an opportunity to do better and address systemic challenges.
“I will focus on listening to governments and various development actors and being their trusted partner, always trying to contribute not only with funding but also with ideas and good practices. I will try to do my part to work hand in hand with both countries to promote dynamic, inclusive and sustainable growth.”
– What ideas implemented in other regions of the world do you think could be useful for the development of our countries?
– There are several attempts, I can highlight two. I have watched with interest how some countries in South Asia seek to address sustainability holistically by working on sustainable infrastructure projects while working with disadvantaged families.
“In Bangladesh, through advance cash transfers, the government has been able to deploy support just in time for a catastrophic event, whether caused by a natural event or shock external.
“I also find it interesting how some East Asian countries are choosing to bank on human capital as a key ingredient for strong growth.”
-Costa Rica suffers from high unemployment, how do you think your work can contribute to this problem, given your experience in other regions of the world?
– Starting from the demand side in the private sector, it is important to encourage the creation of more and better jobs.
“A recent World Bank pre-Covid-19 analysis identified gaps in physical and digital infrastructure, low levels of innovation, lack of competition and underdevelopment of the financial sector, with resulting inequality in access to finance, as some of the structural impediments facing Costa Rica despite remarkable progress on most fronts.
“Policies to remove barriers to competition, improve infrastructure, accelerate innovation, strengthen the business environment, strengthen property rights and ensure better access to finance will be critical in supporting the creation of quality jobs.”
Policies to remove barriers to competition, improve infrastructure, accelerate innovation, strengthen the business environment, strengthen property rights and ensure better access to finance will be critical to helping create quality jobs.
— Karin Klert, Country Manager for El Salvador and Costa Rica at the World Bank
“In terms of labor supply (labour force), it is key to understand that not all groups are affected equally and that there are significant inequalities in terms of labor market outcomes.
“In fact, despite Costa Rica’s educational achievements, as the younger generation has greater access to better education, there is still room for improvement in the number of trained workers. The changing world of work implies a greater demand for advanced skills: such as problem solving, adaptability, digital skills; plus basic skills such as literacy and numeracy.
“Although Costa Rica has taken important steps to align its workforce development with market needs, recent analyzes show that Costa Rican youth lack ‘future’ skills and are more likely to be employed than in the past “.
“The covid-19 crisis has further exacerbated these inequalities: women and young people have been the hardest hit (albeit with notable exceptions such as highly educated women).
“In this context, Costa Rica can benefit from a comprehensive approach building on its remarkable experience in addressing both supply and demand challenges. This can include: promoting the creation of quality jobs, ranging from policies to improve physical and digital infrastructure to better access to finance.
“Improving the availability of skilled workers with relevant skills (including ‘future skills’) by continuing to invest in the quality of education and aligning it with market needs through effective workforce development policies, emphasis on an enhanced version of basic skills and strong monitoring of labor demand.
“Costa Rica has recently taken steps to monitor labor demand and private-sector-driven training (for example, modernizing the National Online Training Institute in line with international evidence), something that will lay the foundations for improving the availability of trained workers. with relevant skills.
“Promoting the inclusion of women and young people in the labor market through interventions or active labor market programs that address supply and demand issues, such as wage support during training and additional measures such as subsidies or bonuses for childcare, so the impact is even greater.’
– Costa Rica, like other countries, is facing higher inflation, which is expected to lead to greater poverty. Based on your experience, what measures do you think Costa Rica could evaluate to help the poorest households cope with this inflationary shock?
– In Costa Rica, an effective strategy could focus in the short term on cash transfers with inflation-adjusted benefits, and in the medium term on improving the opportunities and economic inclusion of the poor and vulnerable (near poverty).
“Costa Rica has the opportunity to take advantage of existing social assistance programs and provide temporary cash and in-kind transfers to poor and vulnerable households that are not currently covered by these programs.
“Furthermore, some efforts can be made to reach out to other population groups that are considered vulnerable (besides the poor) but are not yet covered by social protection programs, in order to prevent a new group of people from falling into poverty. .
“Using the administrative records of Bono Proteger (an emergency program introduced in response to covid-19) can guide the extension of benefits to what is known as “missing medium” or the missing middle sector.
“In the medium term, improving labor participation is a priority. Labor income represents a low and declining share of family income per capita for those at the bottom of the income distribution, but participation rates in Costa Rica are also low in a regional context—especially for the poorest.
“Fiscal space to increase social protection spending will require a combination of reallocation of resources and, over time, revenue mobilization. At the same time, there is considerable potential for embedding social protection into broader economic and social recovery policies.