By Ignacio Munyo.

Column published on El País, June 09, 2020.

Analyzing public policies to fully understand their potential impact and transmitting it to the people is at the heart of CERES’ mission.

The Center for the Study of Economic and Social Affairs is an independent and nonprofit studies center. It focuses on promoting debates to inspire positive changes in living standards.

On June 1, I started a new stage at CERES. The third one in my career as an economist. Before that, I worked as a research assistant and economist between 2002 and 2006 and as a senior economist between 2009 and 2013. Now, I enthusiastically assume the responsibility of taking the baton, which has been passing through distinguished economists since 1985: Favaro, Sapelli, Viana, Vegh, Talvi, and Tolosa.

It is a great responsibility. Every year, the University of Pennsylvania conducts a global evaluation of public policies study centers based on the opinions of over 4,000 experts from around the globe. These results revealed that CERES is the sixth most influential study center among the 1,023 Latin American centers taken into consideration. Besides, it is the most influential center in Uruguay, a position it holds continuously since 2009.

From the point of view of the production and dissemination of knowledge, studies centers such as CERES are close to the academic field. The reports presented by these centers are compiled by researchers that apply criteria of high intellectual demand and scientific rigor. However, the final product is very different from the ones obtained from academic institutions because the findings must be processed in an intelligible way to be accessible to most of the population.

International evidence shows that, in full democracies, studies centers specialized in public policies have a growing influence on the media at any stage of the economic cycle, as well as on the climate of opinion, which is critical for public policies.

We are living a key moment of the country in which CERES, from the civil society, assumes the responsibility for motivating the wide agenda of reforms that Uruguay needs in order to progress. Improving the efficiency of Public Companies, achieving a greater opening of international markets, updating the labor market, as well as developing other policies focused on improving the country’s productivity and competitiveness. These reforms have parliamentary support for the next five years because they are explicit in the programs of each of the five parties of the multicolor coalition.

I commit myself from CERES to work on permanent analysis of these reforms that the country so badly needs in order to attract investment. This agenda will constantly analyze the current situation and the public policies related to education, social integration and upward social mobility, and social security.

I conclude with the inspiring words of the Nobel Prize in Economics Sciences, Michael Spence: “a country’s success depends on its ability to implement good policies as well as preventing the implementation of bad policies. Prosperous countries owe most of their success to an environment where ideas—both good and bad—are exposed to the critique and the vigorous debate in the civil society.” I could not be more committed to that.