Perez-Guerrero Trust Fund seeks to increase its core resources

UNITED NATIONS, June -- The 12-year-old Perez-Guerrero Trust Fund (PGTF) is planning to reach out to potential donors in both developed and developing countries to increase its core resources.

The chairman of the Committee of Experts of the PGTF, Dr. Eduardo Praselj of Venezuela, said that since 1987 the Fund has financed 61 projects with a total allocation of $5.3 million, maintaining an annual average of six projects and $480,000 respectively.

At its 13th meeting held in June 22-25, the Committee approved 21 projects out of 43 applications, the highest number of approvals in any single year since the PGTF was set up. The total allocation for the 21 projects was $1.23 million.

"This year we had more money than usual because of unspent resources," he said. Additionally, he pointed out, there were higher yields on interest earnings on 60 percent of core resources maturing at the end of 1998. But existing investments, however, are in lower-yield instruments due to mature in mid-1999 through 2001.

According to the PGTF guidelines, only the interest accruing on the Fund could be used for project support so as to preserve intact the initial $5 million core capital. This capital, plus unexpended resources in any given year, constitute the interest-bearing resources, which amounted to between $6.2 million and $6.9 million, during 1987-1997. The Committee has decided that, although it wants to increase the yield from its core resources, the PGTF should not go into high risk ventures.

Since the PGTF was set up, there have been 331 applications to finance a variety of South-South inter-regional, sub-regional and regional projects. They were mostly in the field of food and agriculture, trade, information exchange and dissemination, technology and other consulting services related to technical cooperation among developing countries (TCDC).

In an interview with the JOURNAL OF THE GROUP OF 77, Praselj said since there is an increasing demand for funding, the Committee of Experts has decided to launch a campaign to expand its resources.

"This is the first time we are going on a fund raising mission," he said. "We are approaching three possible sources for funds," he added.

Firstly, the PGTF is seeking a minimum of about $2,000 each from the 132 developing countries who are members of the Group of 77.

Secondly, it is seeking funds from donors from the industrialised nations. Thirdly, the PGTF wants to appeal to private Foundations and the private sector.

Praselj said that in addition to these sources, the PGTF has also asked the U.N. Development Programme ''to assist us in locating and tapping idle resources'' in the U.N. system. Currently, the UNDP manages the core capital resources according to guidelines set by the PGTF.

A fifth option is co-financing. Under this arrangement, everyone will be asked to come up with matching contributions.

Praselj said that there have been several good projects which the PGTF cannot fund because they are national or bilateral projects.

"Our guidelines prevent us from funding these projects. But we can always refer them to others," he said.

For the first time, the Committee has also conducted a survey of those who had received PGTF financing for their projects. Nearly half of the 61 recipients responded to the survey by outlining the benefits they received.

Out of the 61 PGTF-funded projects, 32 have been completed, 16 are being implemented, four are under preparation, and nine have not been implemented, but the funds have reverted back to the PGTF.

During the initial years of the PGTF, one of the primary problems was the lack of awareness. Since then, the Committee has publicised the PGTF by writing to institutions and also creating a home page on the Internet, thereby increasing awareness of the PGTF.

"We have also improved out project selection process through stringent new guidelines," Praselj said.

There have been 20 different experts from the various geographical regions who have sat on the PGTF's Committee of Experts over the years.

"There has been a good blend of personalities and expertise which have enriched our Committee," he added.

The Committee, as presently constituted, consists of Eduardo Praselj (chairman), Director, Petroquimica de Venezuela and former Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines; Ambassador Ahmad Kamal, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations; Ambassador Felipe Mabilangan, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations; Edward Obeng Kufuor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ghana; Ghazi Jomaa, Ministry of Foreign affairs, Tunisia; and William Elhers, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Uruguay.