President Bush signs NADB-BECC reform legislation

On April 5, U.S. President George W. Bush signed legislation to extend the reach and effectiveness of the North American Development Bank (NADB) and its sister institution, the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (COCEF).

This important piece of legislation, H.R. 254, is a major element of a broader reform package that has been actively pursued by the governments of the U.S. and Mexico since March of 2002. Among its provisions, the legislation authorizes the NADB and BECC to extend their geographic jurisdiction to 300 kilometers from the border in Mexico, will create a new grant fund out of the Bank’s paid-in capital, and will in increase the funds available for the Bank’s Low Interest Rate Lending Facility (LIRF). Additionally, the legislation calls for the NADB Board of Directors of to issue an annual report to Congress on its activities in infrastructure financing. Passage of this legislation will also facilitate the creation of a single board of directors for the NADB and BECC. Corresponding legislation was approved by the Mexican Senate on April 8, 2003, and requires no further congressional action.

The final passage of this legislation by Congress on March 25, and the subsequent signing of the bill by President Bush, is the culmination of a reform process that began in November 2000 involving a wide array of stakeholders representing the two federal governments, border state governments in the two countries, and local communities and advocacy organizations. The reforms specified in HR 254 stem from the “Monterrey Commitments” that emerged from a March 2002 meeting between Mexico’s President Vicente Fox and U.S. President George W. Bush. The end result is a set of substantive reforms to the NADB and the BECC that have been approved by both the U.S. and Mexican congresses with broad support.

“We are very pleased to have these legislative initiatives accomplished in the U.S. and Mexico so that the NADB-BECC reform process can move forward” stated Jorge C. Garcés, NADB’s Deputy Managing Director, adding “the combination of new grant funds, additional low-interest rate lending, and geographic expansion in Mexico will help our institutions meet a wider array of infrastructure needs, while continuing to serve our core sectors of water and wastewater services.”