Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at the Launch of the OECD Country Programme with Peru
8 December 2014, Veracruz, Mexico
(As prepared for delivery)
President Humala, Chancellor Gutiérrez, Distinguished Guests, Media Friends:
It is a privilege to be with you today to launch the OECD Country Programme with Peru.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has, from the outset, had a mandate and the mission to analyse, share and disseminate best practices in the field of public policy.
In 2014, the OECD established Country Programmes as a new instrument for supporting dynamic, emerging economies such as Peru in designing their reforms and strengthening public policies. It gives us much pleasure to announce that Peru is the first country to join this new instrument.
Peru is the sixth most populous country in Latin America and the seventh economy in the region. Nonetheless, it stands out as one of the most rapidly evolving Latin American economies, driven by significant reform and impressive economic momentum.
Peru has the strongest growth in the region. Between 2000 and 2008, its average growth rate was 5.6%. In 2009, during the very worst of the economic crisis, it was one of the few Latin American countries to register positive growth (1.1%), and, from 2010 to 2013, when the global economy grew very slowly, Peru notched up an average growth rate of 6.7%.
This momentum, sustained by a happy combination of prudent macro-economic policies and thorough structural reforms, has enabled Peru to double its per capita GDP, expand its middle class to include 70% of the population and significantly reduce its poverty indexes.
However, both the Peruvian Government and the OECD are aware of the huge challenges facing the country along the path to development. I will highlight three of these challenges:
First, raising the standard of education (Peru is ranked last of the 65 PISA countries in reading, mathematics and science);
Second, reducing the informal economy (around 65%) and the high proportion of the population (one third) with no medical or retirement security;
Third, strengthening the taxation system and, in general, the ability of the State to provide high quality services in remote regions, including, for example, for the 10 million or so people who have no fresh water or drainage in their home.
The OECD Country Programme seeks primarily to help Peru confront and resolve these and many other challenges.
This Programme is an ambitious combination of 18 projects which the OECD will undertake with Peru, over the next two years, in order to strengthen its public policies. It is a Peruvian Programme supported by the OECD; in other words it is Peru that has decided what its priorities are. The OECD is not telling Peru what to do: we are sharing with it the best practices of other countries. For example:
In terms of good governance, the Programme includes studies aimed at improving the effectiveness of the public sector, co-ordination between the different levels of government and integrity in its processes, for example in relation to tendering and public procurement.
In the social field, the Programme includes a survey of Peru’s vocational training system and of its policies to integrate young people into the labour market. Peru will also take part in the new Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), and the OECD will provide support in designing a Competencies Strategy to enable Peru to tap into its demographic potential in order to raise the productivity of its economy and improve the welfare of its people.
The Programme also includes a survey of environmental policy, in collaboration with ECLAC, in order to strengthen the leadership role which, as the headquarters of COP20, Peru has assumed in this field.
Through this Country Programme, Peru will also participate more actively in various OECD committees and working groups. In fact, in recent months, Peru has joined the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes and the Working Group on Bribery.
We also hope that, during these two years, Peru will adopt an increasing number of OECD instruments, thereby associating itself with the promotion of better public policies, as it is doing today by, for example, becoming a signatory to the International Declaration on Investment and Multinational Enterprises.
Mr President, Chancellor, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the context of the Latin American Summit, Peru is sending out a very important message today: in the face of the complex economic situation affecting the region in 2014 and given the uncertainty clouding prospects for 2015, Peru is not just sitting back. On the contrary, it has set to work to reform the structure of its economy, to improve organisation at government level and to apply best international practices.
The OECD is honoured by the intensive co-operation which it is embarking upon today with Peru. You can count on the support of our Organisation, Mr. President, for achieving the ambitious goals that Peru has set itself for the bicentenary of its independence in 2021. We are certain that, with the backing of the OECD and the steadfast desire to succeed of its people and its Government, Peru will be able to guarantee better lives for all its citizens.