San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arias Seeks Financing, Scholarships in Qatar

As a global financial crisis squeezes Costa Rica’s liquidity and slows development, President Oscar Arias and his counterparts in developing nations called on rich countries for more help.

Officials from more than 160 countries, including about 40 heads of state, discussed aid to developing nations at a United Nations Conference in Qatar late last month.

“It isn’t fair that developing countries are facing a crisis that we did not cause. But it’s even less fair that the nations responsible for this crisis are not helping us,” Arias said.

A global economic downturn, sparked by a U.S. housing market collapse, have led to lower remittances and exports, as well as less access to credit markets in developing countries.

A U.N. report released Monday said world economic growth would slow to 1 percent in 2009, from 2.5 percent this year, and that the global economy might even contract.

“The lack of liquidity in Costa Rica is the biggest (problem) affecting this country,” Presidency Minister Rodrigo Arias said Wednesday.

A Legislative Assembly committee this week approved a measure to transfer a total of $117.5 million to three state banks. The bill, which intends to spur lending and reverse dips in employment, is now under debate on the assembly’s floor.

The Andean Development Corporation, the Inter-American Development Bank, and Latin American Reserve Fund together also recently promised $9.3 billion in liquidity to aid the region’s financial systems.

While in Qatar, Arias met with Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the first private meeting between a Costa Rican president and an Arab head of state, according to a Casa Presidencial press release.

The emir’s wife, Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser al-Missned, invited Costa Rican students to apply for scholarships to study in Qatar, according to the press release.

Qatar is home to “EducationCity,” an enclave of prestigious U.S. university campuses that include Georgetown, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, Texas A&M and VirginiaCommonwealth.

–Gillian Gillers


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