Image taken from Andina (on the left: Carolina Trivelli; on the right President Ollanta Humala of Peru)
Late last month, YouthSave’s core Research Advisory Council (RAC) member Carolina Trivelli was sworn in as Peru’s first Minister of Social Inclusion. Trivelli was most recently Director at the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos and has worked with Proyecto Capital and NAF on linking conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs with financial inclusion strategies.
Last week, Ms. Trivelli graciously agreed to answer some questions about her appointment and upcoming plans.
1. During his campaign, President Humala stated that he wanted the term ‘social exclusion’ to disappear from your language and lives forever. In fact, one of your core messages has been that you don’t want people to stay their whole life as recipients of any social program. As Minister of Social Inclusion, how do you plan on pursuing these ambitious goals?
President Humala’s proposal is to catalyze social change by stimulating inclusive processes that allow for the deepening of democracy and the complete exercise of all rights of all citizens. For this change, we must maintain sustained economic growth to promote development, while recognizing that within an unequal society with strong exclusion and discrimination, growth is not sufficient. To have this, we need to introduce additional measures to provide universal public services (such as health and education) so that all citizens, regardless of gender, birth, skin color and education level, can access the services and opportunities to which they are entitled.
To this end, the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion seeks to improve the temporary and targeted programs that are under its charge and improve the quality of services and products offered, while at the same time encouraging the linkage of poverty alleviation programs with promotional programs that help recipients overcome the conditions that keep them in poverty.
2. You’ve written extensively on the plight of both indigenous peoples and women in Peru. What plans do you have to target them during your term?
The Ministry will run programs that are focused on women and rural populations, primarily indigenous people, and in both cases will seek to equalize these groups’ opportunities and offer them options that are linked with programs that promote income generation and social and political inclusion.
3. During your time as Investigadora Principal y Directora General del Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, you were central in piloting a savings component on the JUNTOS program, which built on the prior savings projects el Proyecto de Desarrollo Corredor Puno-Cusco y el Proyecto de Desarrollo Sierra Sur. Should we expect more of these types of projects during your term as minister?
All recipients of the Ministry’s monetary transfers will recieve benefits through the formal financial system. This will promote transparency in the delivery of public resources, and above all it will ensure that the state, in addition to providing funds, will be providing access to the financial system and supporting processes of financial inclusion. We will work together with financial intermediaries, in particular with Banco de la Nacion, in order to generate a real process of financial inclusion that complements the social support actions of the state.
4. How would you characterize Peruvian attitudes toward social inclusion initiatives?
The discussion about social inclusion is not new, but the challenge today is to generate cost-efficient and highly effective initiatives that succeed in removing the barriers that prevent distinct social groups (the poor, women, indigenous groups, small children, the elderly, etc.) from accessing public and private services that are available for other social groups. There is currently a lot of attention being paid to monetary transfers (conditional, such as Programa Juntos, and unconditional such as Pension 65), but the greatest challenge is to link these programs with others of a more productive nature, such as training and income generation.
5. Do Peruvians generally view savings/asset-building initiatives with skepticism, or do many believe they can be a pathway out of poverty?
This is an ongoing debate. A non-trivial group believes that poor can’t save and we should not give them money “as a gift” because this will not enable them to overcome their conditions of poverty. Luckily there is an opposing current, one that currently holds power in the government, that thinks differently and has confidence in the capacity of poor people to move forward if they can achieve the basic conditions in order to start on the path to development.