LATIN AID AGENCY STILL NEEDS CHIEF

LATIN AID AGENCY STILL NEEDS CHIEF

The Inter-American Investment Corp. marked its second anniversary Wednesday, still in search of a leader.

The corporation's 32 member nations met here Tuesday for about 10 minutes, approved a financial statement and adjourned. After two years, the corporation, intended to stimulate small- and medium-sized private enterprise in Latin America and the Caribbean, has yet to start operations.Whether it does so soon is regarded as an early test of the negotiating talents of Enrique Iglesias. Mr. Iglesias, from Uruguay, is taking over as the Inter-American Development Bank's president.

The corporation is an offshoot of the 29-year-old bank. The bank's president chairs its executive board.

The United States and other member nations have already paid $48 million toward the corporation's $200 million authorized capital, and Congress has appropriated more than $20 million for the agency.

But a prolonged U.S.-Latin American dispute over the parent Inter-American Development Bank's policies has left the corporation in limbo.

A year ago, Antonio Ortiz Mena, the bank's outgoing president, recommended to the corporation's members that Robert Teixeira de Costa, a Brazilian businessman, be named as the corporation's general manager.

They are still trying to reach an understanding (on the appointment), Mr. Ortiz Mena said two weeks ago.

A major problem is that the United States, which has 25 percent of the corporation's voting power, has been blocking the appointment of a general manager until the parent bank agrees to a number of policy and operational reforms.

An agreement on reform is not yet in sight. The corporation's mandate is to help finance Latin American and Caribbean private enterprise through loans, equity investments and other measures.

This week Mr. Iglesias, at the bank's annual meeting, said he hopes to set the corporation in motion within the shortest possible time, since it is an instrument for mobilizing private investment that is destined to play a key role in coming years.

Whether he can persuade the United States to move ahead on the corporation, if negotiations on reform of the parent bank keep dragging, could be one of Mr. Iglesias' bigger challenges, bank observers here say.