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FSVC Update – March 2024

Panama: Empowering CSOs to Advocate for Government Transparency

FSVC’s CSO small grant recipients presenting their advocacy projects in Panama City, Panama. January 2024
With funding from the U.S. Embassy in Panama, FSVC collaborates with Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Libertad Ciudadana (FDLC, the local chapter of Transparency International) to strengthen governance, transparency and accountability in Panama. Through this initiative, six Panamanian civil society organizations (CSOs) received small grants from FSVC, and benefited from FSVC’s guidance in their budget analysis and advocacy projects.

On January 30, 2024, these CSOs presented their project findings to other local CSOs, journalists and representatives from Panamanian ministries. The CSO Espacio Civico, for example, investigated gender parity in the remuneration of administrative staff of the Panamanian Parliament. Their research found overall parity between the pay of Parliament’s female and male administrative staff, but identified challenges and limitations for female politicians due to biases and traditional gender norms. The CSO Centro de Incidencia Ambiental Panamá (CIAM), on the other hand, conducted a social audit of the Directorate of Mineral Resources (DNRM) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Their audit unearthed substantial deficiencies in transparency concerning large-scale mining contracts, and gaps in the disclosure of detailed budgetary information.

These CSOs’ projects have contributed to fostering a more transparent and accountable governance framework in Panama.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Strengthening Anti-Corruption Efforts

FSVC training with the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Financial Intelligence Unit to disseminate the National Risk Assessment and the Financial Action Task Force Mutual Evaluation Report in Kisangani, DRC.
December 2023
FSVC has been supporting the Financial Intelligence Unit (CENAREF) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in its efforts to disseminate the findings of the country’s National Risk Assessment (NRA) and of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Mutual Evaluation Report. Specifically, FSVC recently helped CENAREF organize and conduct a workshop in Kisangani, the commercial capital of northern DRC, which faces major money laundering threats related to commerce and illegal logging.

During the workshop, CENAREF staff presented the NRA, highlighted sector-specific vulnerabilities, offered practical recommendations to strengthen prevention, detection and reporting of suspicious activity, and explained the innovations in the country’s new Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Law of 2022. Participants included local law enforcement, financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses.

The workshop created an opportunity to foster collaboration among national and local authorities, and between public and private sector entities outside the capital city to collectively enhance AML efforts in the DRC. FSVC, with funding from the U.S. Department of State, looks forward to continuing to support the DRC’s efforts to strengthen financial transparency and accountability, and combat money laundering.

Iraq: Enhancing Access to Finance for Micro and Small Businesses


FSVC is dedicated to enhancing access to finance for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Iraq. Recently, FSVC organized a virtual roundtable that brought together representatives from private financial institutions and the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) to address challenges hindering MSMEs’ access to finance, and to promote collaboration.

During the roundtable, critical topics were discussed, such as the potential impact of de-dollarization on MSMEs, tax laws and the establishment of the Ryada Social Bank — a specialized financial institution focused on financing MSMEs. Representatives from the CBI, private financial institutions and the Iraqi Private Banks League (IPBL) actively engaged in these discussions.

Key points addressed during the sessions included challenges faced by MSMEs, particularly high taxation rates hindering entry into the formal economy and limited access to finance. Suggestions were made to review tax laws to incentivize MSME formalization, drawing insights from successful tax practices observed in other countries such as Malaysia, Egypt and Germany. A significant outcome was the decision of the CBI to spearhead the establishment of the Ryada Social Bank as an initiative to place new emphasis on financing MSMEs.

FSVC remains committed to fostering collaboration across the Iraqi financial sector to promote access to finance for MSMEs, thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of State.

In Memory of Richard A. Debs

The FSVC Family honors the memory of Dick Debs, a steadfast supporter of FSVC’s work and mission for thirty years who passed away on January 28, 2024, at age 93. Dick was a trailblazer in efforts to strengthen the financial condition of emerging economies around the world. He played a prominent role in FSVC’s early governance, serving as a member of the Russian-American Bankers Forum (RABF) that FSVC administered to help strengthen the Russian banking sector starting in 1992. Other founding members of the RABF included Federal Reserve Bank of New York President Jerry Corrigan, FSVC Co-Chairmen Cyrus Vance and John Whitehead, former Chase Manhattan Bank President David Rockefeller, and former IBM Chairman John Opel. Over his long and distinguished career, Dick held senior positions in American finance that included First Vice President of the New York Fed, founding President of Morgan Stanley International, and Advisory Director of Morgan Stanley. He was a founding member of the Bretton Woods Committee. We extend our sincere condolences to Dick’s wife Barbara and his family.