NicaNotes: Good News in the Financial Arena in Nicaragua: January to September 2022

By Nan McCurdy and Katherine Hoyt

The international main-stream media rarely focuses on good news from Nicaragua, on its achievements in reducing poverty, and maternal and infant mortality, or on its expansion of health care, education, electrification, water and sewerage, renewable energy, and roadways. However, a recent article published on the web page of the Center for Strategic and International Studies conceded that Nicaragua had made major advances economically and, in spite of US sanctions, had “rebounded relatively well from Covid-19” and had ensured that Nicaraguans could feed themselves. The article noted that the Nicaraguan economy grew by 10.1% in 2021 and foreign investment increased by 39% from 2020 to 2021 with particular strength in energy and mining. The author remarked on continuing financial support from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration for such things as infrastructure and fuel subsidies. For our readers to review more details about these achievements, we have compiled a summary of financial news from January to September of this year.

Nicaragua and CABEI are currently carrying out 33 projects totaling more than US$2.5 billion for productive infrastructure, environmental protection and the fight against poverty.

These are some of the major loans contracted by Nicaragua thus far in 2022:
On June 23, 2022, the World Bank approved a loan for US$116 million to Nicaragua to support the Covid Prevention Plan. Because of US sanctions, the World Bank had not extended loans to Nicaragua in some time. Bank representative Kinnon Scott stated that “the loan is only the second loan by the bank since the start of the pandemic in 2020. The Bank recognizes the progress made in the public health system and its efforts to guarantee essential medical care for all Nicaraguans.” (Nicaragua News, 24 June 2022)

The World Bank also congratulated Nicaragua for excellent project management at its 2022 Spring Meeting. World Bank Vice President Julio Jaramillo stated, “The World Bank would like to congratulate Nicaragua for the excellent management of its project portfolio, a recognition of this is that the country continues to achieve the highest disbursement rate from the World Bank in Central America.” [This is despite sanctions and the US voting against most loans.] (Nicaragua News, 25 April, 2020)

Thankfully, to date the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) fully recognizes Nicaragua’s excellent project management and has been generous with loans. It recently built one of its main Central American Offices in Managua.

CABEI President Dante Mossi noted that “Nicaragua, as one of the CABEI founding members and with a perfect execution rate of its project portfolio, can always count on the support of the bank for the implementation of social investment programs to eradicate poverty and inequality and mitigate the effects of climate change, improving the quality of life for all Nicaraguans.” Nicaragua and CABEI are currently carrying out 33 projects totaling more than US$2.5 billion for productive infrastructure, environmental protection and the fight against poverty which include building new hospitals, roads, electricity coverage, low-cost housing, as well as water and sanitation facilities. (Nicaragua News, 27 Jan. 2022)

Mossi said that “Nicaragua is an excellent executor of a varied portfolio of projects such as roads, noting that “really historic roads are connecting the Caribbean with the Pacific.” He added that “Nicaragua is the country with the best roads and is expanding that network.” He also said that Nicaragua has first-world hospitals: “In fact, people come from other countries to see how these hospitals are being built and managed.” The hospitals are efficiently run, he noted: “If an X-Ray machine is broken, it is quickly replaced or fixed and the public continues to be served.” (Radio La Primerisima, 19 May 2022; Informe Pastran, 16 May 2022)

A new loan with CABEI was recently approved for US$383 million to finance more road expansion and will be executed by the Ministry of Transportation. This will improve the quality of life of more than half a million Nicaraguans in nine municipalities in the Pacific and two in the Autonomous Regions with construction of 185 kilometers of roadway. CABEI is currently assisting with loans for eight roads, benefiting more than 2.3 million people. For example, CABEI approved a loan of US$58.7 million to rebuild 60 kilometers of the Muy Muy-Matiguás-Río Blanco highway between the department of Matagalpa and the North Caribbean Coast. (Radio La Primerisima, 18 May 2022)

In June 2022 the CABEI and Nicaragua contracted for a loan of US$200 million to help cover the rise in fuel prices. In 2022 the government has covered all of the increases in gasoline, diesel, cooking gas, and electricity costs mitigating the effect that high prices have on producers and the final consumers. (Nicaragua News, 23 June 2022)

On July 6, Banco Avanz and the CABEI announced the renewal of the global credit line for US$8 million in support of the economic reactivation of 223 small and medium businesses in the productive, commercial, and service sectors affected by the pandemic. This credit line is part of the Program for Financial Support and Technical Assistance to Small, Medium, and Micro-businesses (MSME’s) in Nicaragua which has been implemented since September 2020. (Nicaragua News, 7 July 2022)

To support the liquidity management of the central banks of the member countries of the CABEI, the institution approved the expansion of its credit program from US$200 million to US$500 million for each eligible country. This increase will enable the central banks to address contingencies and strengthen their liquidity positions, contribute to maintaining the value of their national currencies and the stability of their financial systems. (Radio La Primerisima, 17 August 2022)

CABEI announced on September 1st that Nicaragua has made a US$6.4 million-dollar advance payment corresponding to the third of eight installments of capital of the subscription of 20,400 series “A” within the framework of CABEI’s VIII General Capital Increase. CABEI Executive President Dante Mossi stated that “Nicaragua is a reliable and high-quality partner of the Bank and has shown its commitment to strengthen the financial and credit profile of the Institution, consolidating the role it plays in the midst of the challenging economic context that the Central American region faces”. The Nicaragua Government and CABEI are currently putting together a project portfolio totaling more than US$1.8 billion dollars. (Nicaragua News, 2 September 2022)

To enable the participation of the private corporate sector in the development of the economies of the countries that make up the Central American Integration System (SICA), in August 2022 the CABEI created the Special Fund for Direct Foreign Investment with an availability of up to US$200 million. Bank President Mossi said that “with the creation of the Fund the role of CABEI as the regional integration bank and bridge to the world is ratified. The goal is to incentivize and facilitate private sector investment in member countries, helping potential investors to overcome barriers established by regulatory agencies of local banks that impede access to financing.”

Financial Stability
The financial rating agency Moody’s announced that the credit profile for Nicaragua is B3 stable, supported by the strength of the economy. The report highlights that “the economy has recovered swiftly, registering a 10.3% GDP growth in 2021, due to strict fiscal discipline and historic growth in exports and foreign direct investment.” (Nicaragua News, 4 April 2022).

The Central Bank published its “First Quarter Gross Domestic Product Report” in June which stated that Nicaragua’s GDP registered 5.8% growth during the first quarter of 2022. The economic sectors with the greatest contribution to GDP growth were hotels and restaurants (20.9%), mining (13%), electricity (11.7%), commerce (9.6%), fishery and aquaculture (6.5%), and manufacturing (6.2%). (Nicaragua News, 13 June 2022)

The Central Bank presented the Foreign Debt Report corresponding to the first quarter of 2022. The total external debt was US$14.5 billion dollars between January and March this year, 0.7% growth over the same period in 2021. Of the total foreign debt, 54.4% corresponded to the public sector and 45.6% to the private sector. (Nicaragua News, 28 July 20022)

The Central Bank reported that the flow of remittances in the third quarter continued its positive trend, totaling US$763.6 million, a 44% growth compared to the same quarter of 2021 (US$529.8 million). Cumulative remittances to June totaled US$1.39 billion, 35.5% higher than those received during the same period of 2021 (US$1.03 billion). (Radio La Primerisima, 4 August 2022)

The Nicaragua Export Processing Center (CETREX) reported that exports totaled US$1.87 billion from January to June 2022, a 20.5% increase compared to the same period in 2021. CETREX Director Xiomara Mena said that the products with greatest demand on the international market during the period were premium coffee – US$503 million; gold – US$494 million; beef – US$357 million; sugar – US$90 million; beans – US$66 million; peanuts – US$59 million. (Nicaragua News, 8 July 2022)

Minimum Wage
A minimum wage increase of 7% for the different economic sectors went into effect March 1st. It was negotiated between government representatives, employers, and union representatives. The minimum wage is adjusted every year according to economic growth and accumulated inflation, as well as the laws of the country. (Radio La Primerisima, 3 Feb. 2022)

Unemployment and Inflation
The International Labor Organization (ILO) presented its report on unemployment entitled “2021 Labor Overview, Latin America and the Caribbean” which states that Nicaragua with 4.8% had the second lowest unemployment rate in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2021, surpassed only by Mexico with 4.3%. (Nicaragua News, 3 Feb. 2022)

In August the Bank of Guatemala presented its “Survey of Economic Expectations to the Panel of Private Analysts” corresponding to June 2022. The report states that Nicaragua and Panama, each with 5.2% cumulative inflation rate as of June 2022, have the lowest inflation rates in the Central American region, followed by El Salvador (7.76%); Dominican Republic (9.48%); Costa Rica (10.1%); and Honduras (10.22%). (Nicaragua News, 10 August 2022)

The number of cooperatives has tripled in Nicaragua from 1,722 in 2007 to 6,010 in 2021. Some 500 are headed by women. The government’s Creative Economy Model strengthens cooperative organization in all economic sectors to guarantee food security and economic sovereignty. (Nicaragua News, 22 Feb. 2022)

New Credit Program for Small Producers
The government officially announced the innovative Adelante Program which will provide loans to thousands of small and medium-scale producers, with an initial revolving fund of US$80 million. Minister of Finance Iván Acosta said, “It is a highly relevant program for production, development of small businesses, and entrepreneurship. It is going to have an impact on the popular economy. It is the synthesis of a continuous effort to bring credit to thousands of small producers who contribute to development.” He added, “These sectors guarantee better distribution of income, access to production, markets and financing.” Then, he went on to explain, “Since 2007 we have mobilized millions of dollars that have had an impact on production, trade and consumption with good results.” The Adelante Program will have a portfolio of up to US$80 million for agriculture, livestock, forestry, fishing and aquaculture, manufacturing, agribusiness, commerce, hotels and restaurants, transportation and communication, among others. (Informe Pastran, 17 August 2022)

By Nan McCurdy

Nicaragua First in Central America in Covid Vaccination Coverage
The official web page of the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization noted that Nicaragua is in first place in Covid vaccination in Central America with 84.9 percent of the population vaccinated. The organizations also indicated that Nicaragua is sixth in the world. This achievement is possible thanks to the strategies promoted by the Government, demonstrating once again the efficacy of the Family and Community Health Model, with permanent vaccination, house to house visits, health fairs, mobile brigades, among other strategies. See data: (Radio La Primerisima, 4 Sept. 2022)

UNAN-Managua Awards Honorary Degree to Brian Willson
In commemoration of the 35th anniversary of Brian Willson’s act of heroism and solidarity with the people of Nicaragua, the University Council of the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) – Managua awarded him the honorary degree “Doctor Honoris Causa in Humanities.” Rector Ramona Rodriguez said that Willson, who lost his legs and suffered serious injuries while trying to block a train loaded with weapons destined for the counterrevolution in Nicaragua on September 1, 1987, meets all the merits to receive such recognition. “Your example is an encouragement. In education we must continue to contribute to the construction of a culture of peace based on love, respect for human rights and self-determination of peoples.” Brian Willson urged citizens to defend the Sandinista Revolution from the attacks of the United States government. “Your Revolution is priceless. I cannot tell you how much your Revolution has helped me in my own Revolution. So I want to thank everyone for the ceremony and the doctorate.” Speech in Spanish: (Radio La Primerisima, 1 Sept. 2022)

Reform of Law on Mines to Eradicate Use of Mercury
The National Assembly approved a Reform to the Mining Law which creates a fund that will finance and carry out activities to organize artisanal, small-scale mining, guaranteeing adequate compensation and labor benefits for workers. It will also work to eradicate the use of mercury in artisanal processing and ensure the preservation, conservation and rational exploitation of mineral resources through supervision of concessions to determine compliance of companies with environmental best practices regulations, corporate social responsibility in the communities in which they operate, and inspection of mineral exports by pawnbrokers and precious metals dealers to eliminate illicit trade activities. (Nicaragua News, 1 Sept. 2022)

More than 400,000 Voter ID Cards Issued in 2022
The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) issued a report August 29 on the citizen identification process leading up to the November 6th municipal elections. The report stated that 417,541 identification cards were issued between January 03 and August 26 of this year. The report said that with the commitment to facilitate the citizen verification process for the upcoming elections, “the CSE will offer verification services through its website, telephone lines and WhatsApp messaging service to guarantee the full exercise of the right to vote.”  (Nicaragua News, 29 August 2022)

FSLN-Led Alliance Registers Candidates for Municipal Elections
The Alliance headed by the Sandinista National Liberation Front registered its provisional candidates for mayor, vice mayor and municipal council seats for the Nov. 6 municipal elections. The candidate for mayor in Managua, Reina Rueda, stated that the FSLN alliance is committed to the continuity of programs for the benefit of the population. The commitment of the United Alliance Nicaragua Triumphs is to continue with the restoration of rights through the policies promoted by the government in the fight against poverty, Rueda said after registering at the Supreme Electoral Council. The Alliance has 5,770 candidates for council members and 306 candidates for mayor and vice mayor in Nicaragua’s 153 municipalities. In Managua, the candidate for vice-mayor is Enrique Armas Rosales. The list of candidates for the different positions was received by Julio Acuña, Director of Political Parties of the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE). The Alianza Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) “United Nicaragua Triumphs” is made up of 15 parties and movements, including the Partido Liberal Nacionalista (PLN), Partido Unidad Cristiana (PUC), Partido Alternativa por el Cambio (AC), Partido Resistencia Nicaragüense (PRN), Partido Indígena Multiétnico (PIM), Partido Movimiento Yapti Tasba Masraka Raya (Myatamaran), Partido Autónomo Liberal (PAL), Partido Movimiento Indígena Progresista de la Moskitia (Moskitia Pawanka),  Alianza de Resistencia Nicaragüense (Arnic), Movimiento Evangélico en la Convergencia, Movimiento Indígena de la Costa Caribe, Movimiento de Liberales Constitucionalistas de Convergencia and Movimiento Liberal Constitucionalista Independiente (MLCI) and the FSLN. (Radio La Primerisima, 6 Sept. 2022)

Record Quantity of Remittances
The Central Bank reported that July remittances totaled US$274.4 million, 55.4% more than in the same month of 2021 (US$176.6 million). Cumulative remittances totaled US$1.67 billion, which compared to those registered in the same period of 2021 (US$1.21 billion), a growth of 38.4%. The main countries of origin of remittances in July were: the United States with (78.2%), Spain (8.1%), Costa Rica (7.7%), Panama (1.7%) and Canada (1.1%), which together account for 96.8% of the total received. (Radio La Primerisima, 30 August 2022)

The Catholic Church of Granada Defends Rapist Priest
The Ministry of the Family (MIFAM) strongly condemned the statements of the Catholic Church of Granada which defended Father José Leonardo Urbina, who was sentenced to 49 years in prison for raping a 12-year-old girl. MIFAM emphasized the repeated statements by Pope Francis against impunity for priests who commit crimes against human dignity. “We consider the Bishop and the Diocese of Granada to be in rebellion against the Pastoral guidance of Pope Francis. The Holy Father demands the denunciation of the thousands of priests and even bishops who commit crimes against boys and girls, in terrible acts of pedophilia, deserving the condemnation of institutions and families everywhere.” Following the statements made by the Catholic Church of Granada, the Ministry of the Family demanded justice on behalf of the victims of sexual abuse. (Radio La Primerisima, 5 Sept. 2022)

Agreement to Improve Special Needs Schools
The Ministry of Education and the People’s Republic of China Foundation for Peace and Development signed a “Cooperation Agreement for School Innovation in Nicaragua Special Needs Education.” The agreement includes rehabilitation, expansion and equipping of 25 special needs schools, as well as implementation of innovative methodologies and strategies that guarantee the right of all children to inclusive and quality education. (Nicaragua News, 31 August 2022)

Dermatology Center Inaugurated
The rehabilitated “Francisco José Gómez Urcuyo” National Dermatology Center in Managua was inaugurated on September 1st. The US$2.81 million investment includes rehabilitation, expansion and equipping of the emergency room, outpatient clinic, pharmacy, and laboratory, benefiting patients nationally. Financing for the project was provided by the General Budget and is part of the Family and Community Health Model that the Government is implementing. Photos: (Nicaragua News, 1 Sept. 2022)

Nicaragua Now Has 150 Fire Stations
The government inaugurated a new fire station in Santa Teresa in the department of Carazo. Commander Lenin Quiroz, deputy director of the Unified Firefighters, said that this is the 150th fire station to be inaugurated thanks to the policies of the Nicaraguan authorities. He added that the station has 11 firefighters and two emergency vehicles, which will guarantee security, tranquility and peace of mind to the population. They have trained and qualified personnel to attend to the different emergencies demanded by the citizens, such as prevention, attention to traffic accidents, transfer of patients, rescue of people and extinguishing fires in homes and businesses of the municipality. (Radio La Primerisima, 6 Sept. 2022)

Scientific Article to Be Presented at Major World Congress
The Latin American Federation of Associations of Perinatal Medicine selected the research article “Cervical Shortening and Emergency Cerclage Diagnosis and Result” by Nicaraguan obstetrics specialists Sugey Bravo, Luzana Tablada and Néstor Pavón to be published in the Latin American Journal of Perinatology. It will also be presented at the 32nd World Congress of the International Society of Ultrasound in Gynecology and Obstetrics in the United Kingdom from September 16 to 22. The Director of the Maternal-Fetal Surgery Unit of the Berta Calderón Hospital Dr. Néstor Pavón stated that “the selection of the scientific research study carried out by Nicaraguan specialists is one more example of the high capacity and investigative quality that exist in the country and are being promoted by the Family and Community Healthcare Model.” Pavon added, “The results of this study provide guidelines to begin Hemorrhage and Placental Accreta workshops with the 19 Local Comprehensive Systems in the country, to standardize diagnostic criteria and surgical approaches that will contribute to reducing maternal deaths.” (Nicaragua News, 2 Sept. 2022)

Nicaragua-Russia Commission Meets in Vladivostok
Representatives of the governments of Nicaragua and Russia held a meeting on Sept. 6 to discuss progress in the programs being developed in strategic sectors such as food security, health, agribusiness, transportation, energy, banking, media, investment and trade in general. The meeting of Co-Chairs of the Russia/Nicaragua Joint Inter-Governmental Commission for trade exchange and technical-scientific cooperation was held within the framework of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia. Russia and Nicaragua reiterated the special attention paid to bilateral cooperation by President Putin, President Ortega and Vice President Murillo. Participants from Nicaragua included Iván Acosta, Minister of Finance and Co-Chairman of the Russia/Nicaragua Joint Commission; Laureano Ortega Murillo, Presidential Advisor and Special Representative of the President for Affairs with Russia; Alba Torres, Ambassador to Russia; and Claudio Arana, Minister Counselor of the Nicaraguan Embassy in Russia. (Radio La Primerisima), 6 Sept. 2022

Inmates at Court of Appeals
Ten inmates looking to be in good health were photographed at the Court of Appeals of Managua (TAM), awaiting a resolution of their cases by the judicial authorities. Most of the cases have already been sent to the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, where proceedings are being held to resolve the cassation requested by the defense attorneys. Dora María Téllez, Suyén Barahona and Luis Alberto Rivas Anduray appeared before Criminal Chamber 2. In Criminal Chamber 1 before Judge Octavio Rochuth appeared Ana Margarita Vigil, Félix Maradiaga Blandón and Daysi Tamara Dávila. Juan Lorenzo Hollman Chamorro appeared before Judge Nadia Camila Tardencilla Rodríguez, of the Second Criminal District Court of Managua. Álvaro Vargas Duarte was taken before the Fourth Criminal District Court. Irving Larios Sánchez and Roger Abel Reyes Barrera, were notified that their sentence is final, because their defense attorney filed their appeal out of time. It was explained to the prisoners that their cases are now in a Sentence Execution and Penitentiary Surveillance Court, where the court will calculate the number of days they have been in prison, the date of conclusion of their sentence or any other point that their new defense attorney may promote. Photos: (Radio La Primerisima, 31 August 2022)