August 20, 2014
The Presidential Mansion, San Salvador, El Salvador
His Excellency Mr. Salvador Sánchez Cerén, President of the Republic of El Salvador,
His honorable Mr. Carlos Cáceres,
Minister of Finance
His honorable Mr. Gerson Martínez,
Minister of Public Works, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development
His honorable Carlos Castaneda,
Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Economic Integration and Promotion
Senior government officials,
Distinguished members of the Press,
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA, it is a great honor for me to speak at this signing ceremony of the ODA loan agreement for the San Miguel Bypass Construction Project.
I would first like to extend my sincere appreciation to those present here and all the people who have made tremendous efforts in preparing this critical Project. Among the latter, especially, are our friends and colleagues from the Presidency, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Public Works, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Ministry of Foreign Relations of El Salvador.
As many of you may already know, JICA emphasizes the importance of both economic growth and human security. Economic growth is the biggest contributor of poverty reduction. But we need to pay attention to down side risks such as natural disasters. Therefore, we at JICA support both necessary infrastructure projects such as road construction AND programs to protect human security such as projects for disaster risk reduction.
These dual priorities also inform our cooperation in El Salvador, and our backing of the San Miguel Bypass Construction Project in particular. As a piece of growth-enhancing infrastructure, the bypass will contribute to economic development of the disadvantaged Eastern Region. Part of the Pan-American Highway will also be widened under this Project. And, this new project will improve domestic and international transport links in El Salvador more broadly. This is all the more important because land-based routes account for a significant proportion of transportation flows for this country.
In fact, the San Miguel Bypass Construction Project is not the first JICA-financed road improvement project in El Salvador. In 1994, JICA extended an ODA loan to (i) rehabilitate two important bridges on the Pan-American Highway and the Littoral Highway, and (ii) construct arterial roads around San Salvador. For twenty years since then, this Project has contributed to smooth increase in traffic volume; it has also mitigated traffic congestion in the metropolitan area of the capital city. I am confident that this new Project will have just as substantive an impact in unleashing El Salvador's economic potential.
In terms of disaster risk reduction, the San Miguel Bypass Construction Project incorporates several technical assistance components to help the Government of El Salvador build a society more resilient to natural disasters.
Specifically, the project intends to help the Ministry of Public Works, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development improve technical regulations for the design of bridges and crossing structures. Moreover, it entails drafting of a vulnerability evaluation methodology and integration of these evaluations into bridge inventories.
I should add that this technical assistance is also contributing to the effectiveness of another JICA project that aims to assist the Department of Adaptation for Climate Change and Strategic Risk Management within the Ministry in its attempts to strengthen public infrastructure.
In conclusion, we at JICA are committed to remaining an active and responsive development partner of El Salvador. We look forward to exploring how best to further leverage and safeguard the country's bright potential.
Thank you very much. Muchas Gracias.