After nearly five years at the helm of the government’s investment-promotion agency, Juan Carlos Pereira, the founding director of ProNicaragua, announced this week that he will be stepping down from his job June 15 to go work for the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, which provides loans and risk-management services to the private sector in developing companies.
Pereira said he was leaving for professional reasons to accept a very attractive job offer, and denied that his decision had anything to do with the change in government.
ProNicaragua was created in 2003 by the administration of former President Enrique Bolaños and has helped attract some $230 million in foreign direct investment while creating some 9,000 new jobs, mostly in the textile and apparel industry.
An additional 11,000 job opportunities will be created in the coming years once some of the new investment projects here open for business and become fully operational, according to ProNicaragua.
Perhaps the most colorful feather in ProNicaragua’s cap was successfully convincing ITG-Cone Denim, the second-largest textile company in the world, to invest $100 million in a textile plant outside of Managua.
The plant, which broke ground earlier this year in an event that was attended by President Ortega, has been the largest investment in Central American since the implementation of the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA).
The organization claims it concentrates its efforts on attracting companies that “promote respect for their employees and development for municipalities through the transfer of technology and the implementation of socially and environmentally responsible practices.”
For its efforts to help create investment and jobs for the national economy, ProNicaragua was recognized by the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) as one of the top five investment-promotion agencies in the world.
Despite its success, there were some questions at the beginning of the year as to whether the new administration of President Ortega would be as enthusiastic about the organization as Bolaños had been.
Pereira told The Nica Times last May that ProNicaragua was having some trouble getting all of its funding from the government during the first quarter of 2007, but said that government has promised to pay Pro-Nicaragua in full during the second half of the year.
The Sandinista government, Pereira explained, was in the process of reviewing the budget, but after meeting with Pro-Nicaragua and learning more about what the organization does, he said it had committed itself to continue funding.
“We are working very well with the new government,” he said in May.
The government provides approximately 50% of the ProNicaragua’s $1 million annual budget.
The rest of the funding comes from international donors, including an important chunk from the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) and the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Account.
Pereira this week declined to comment on ProNicaragua’s current budget situation, saying only that he didn’t see any “official indications” that the government planned to make any changes to ProNicaragua.
At press time, no replacement had been named for Pereira.