World Bank Chief Wants Brazil’s Ethanol and Social Programs Applied in Poor Countries

After visiting a mill that makes sugarcane-based ethanol, the president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, declared that he would like to see the use of Brazilian ethanol technology in Sub-Saharan Africa where it could contribute to social development.

Brazil has used sugarcane to produce a low-polluting ethanol vehicle fuel for over 20 years.

"I was pleased to hear various Brazilians say that this technology can be transferred," said Wolfowitz.

The president of the World Bank is looking at other Brazilian government programs, such as the Family Voucher program (Bolsa Famí­lia), and the possibility of implanting them in other regions where there are problems with hunger and poverty.

The World Bank chief has been visiting several states and programs in Brazil. After meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, last week,  Wolfowitz praised Brazil’s economy and social progress, and pledged to continue the World Bank’s support for improving the lives of Brazil’s poorest people.

"Brazil has made real progress in achieving economic stability by maintaining fiscal control, with benefits for many, including the poor," Mr. Wolfowitz said. "The government has shown that progress must rest on two pillars –  economic discipline and a focus on important social issues."

During the meeting with President Lula, Mr. Wolfowitz stressed the Bank will continue to support middle-income countries, such as Brazil, where high levels of poverty and inequality persist, despite economic stability.

He noted the partnership between Brazil and the World Bank is bearing fruit –  pointing to the Bolsa-Famí­lia program, which is providing a minimum level of income for 8 million poor families in Brazil.

"There is growing evidence that Brazil is reducing poverty and inequality, through a combination of sound economic policies and pro-poor programs, such as Bolsa Famí­lia. The Bank is proud to have played a role in supporting such programs," he added.

Wolfowitz also commended Brazil’s strong leadership role on the international trade agenda, by pressing for increased agricultural liberalization in the developed world.  

"Brazil is an industrial and technological leader whose products, ranging from soybeans to aircraft are widely exported.  Fair trade is vital for development and poverty reduction," he said.   

Wolfowitz stated again there must be meaningful agricultural reforms, including cuts to subsidies, or the world’s poor will suffer the most.

This is Wolfowitz’s first official visit to Latin America as president of the World Bank. On his arrival in Brasilia, Mr. Wolfowitz said that the purpose of his trip was to to learn from Brazil’s experiences in dealing successfuly with global development challenges so he can share that experience with other countries.

" I want to learn from Brazil’s experience with some of the pressing challenges that are all too common to other emerging countries, such as the need to overcome   poverty and inequality;  the need to ensure sustainable development while protecting the environment; and serious health threats such as HIV/AIDS," he said.

President Lula thanked Mr. Wolfowitz for visiting Brazil early in his tenure and praised Brazil’s strong relationship with the World Bank.

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