Bank of the Republic (Colombia)
|Governor||Juan José Echavarría|
|Central bank of||Colombia|
COP (ISO 4217)
The Banco de la República (Spanish: Banco de la República) is the state-run central bank of the Republic of Colombia. Its main functions are detailed by the Congress according to the Ley 31 de 1992. One of them is the issuance of the Colombian currency, the peso. The bank is also active in promoting financial inclusion policy and is a leading member of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion.
There are at least three predecessors to the current bank. The first national bank was created in 1880, named the Banco Nacional, and its functions included handling the state funds, issuing currency and making loans to the state. In 1894 the Congress closed the bank due to registered excesses in the issuance of currency. In 1905 the president Rafael Reyes created the Banco Central de Colombia but it was closed in 1910 by Reyes opponents.
In 1923, after several years of financial crisis, President Pedro Nel Ospina requested an expert committee to study Colombian economic conditions. This committee, led by American economist Edwin Walter Kemmerer (known as The Money Doctor) was called the Mission Kemmerer. Kemmerer had already worked with Latin American governments: that of Mexico in 1917 and of Guatemala in 1919. He helped the Colombian government create the Banco de la República and the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic, and to structure the laws for this function using those already existing. After his work in Colombia, Kemmerer did the same for other Latin American governments, like Chile in 1925, Ecuador in 1926 and Peru in 1931.
The bank was officially created by the Law 25 of July 25, 1923, 5 days after the 113 anniversary of the Independence of Colombia. With a capital of 10 million dollars in gold, half provided by the government and the rest by foreign and national commercial banks. Its role as a banker for banks includes:
- Acting as a State Bank
- Controlling the issue of the currency, the Colombian peso
- Receiving foreign credits and make loans to the Government and private banks
- Managing the financial policy of the country
- Regulating the exchange rate between the peso and other currencies
The Board of Directors was created by the same law, with ten members from private and public sectors of the economy with the power to enforce regulatory and monetary controls. The Board was also given the responsibility of establishing the discount rate and intervening to control interest rates.
The headquarters of the Banco de la República are located in Bogotá, in the historical center of the city (Calle 11 No. 4-21) and a few blocks away from the Gold Museum and the Luis Ángel Arango Library. Along with the Fiscalía General de la Nación de Colombia bunker, it is one of the most secure buildings in the country, with several security levels required to access different areas. The security is handled by private companies and the Colombian National Police, armed with Colombian-made MAC-10 sub-machine guns, among others. Most of the administrative areas of the bank are located above ground, in a twelve-story building. Below the street there is a heavily guarded area where money in different currencies is stored, and in a special vault the country's reserve of gold.
Culture and Scholarships
Beside their primary roles in the Colombian economy, the Banco de la República has control over two important institutions in Colombian culture: the Gold Museum and the Luis Ángel Arango Library. Also, the Bank has two scholarship programs for the best researchers in Economics (Lauchlin Currie Scholarship) and in Economic Law (Enrique Low Murtra Scholarship).