SANTIAGO – Chile’s economy is going through a slowdown, but there is no crisis, President Michelle Bachelet said in an interview published Friday by Capital magazine.
“I worry about the growth rate,” she said. “I worry because, although we are not in a crisis and we are not in a recession, and there is no national or international assessment pointing that way, it is obvious we cannot be pleased with a slowdown.”
“We knew we were going through a slowdown, but it has been deeper and longer than expected,” Bachelet said, adding that there is a regional deceleration pre-dating March, when she took office.
“It is evident that the slowdown did not begin in March,” she said. “There is a process that began in the last quarter of 2012, continued for all of 2013 and is reaching its lowest point in 2014,” she said. “It is a slowdown that affects all of Latin America.”
Chile’s economy is projected to grow 1.8 percent in 2014, following four years of average annual expansion of 5.4 percent.
“It is true that Chile grew a lot thanks to mining and related activities,” the president said. “But copper (prices) are down and we have high energy costs, there are many projects on hold because of disagreements between companies and communities, and all this has had an impact.”
Bachelet said she is confident of improvement in 2015.
“We are growing less than what we would like, but we are growing, and in 2015 we’ll be better than in 2014,” she said.
“It is not enough with what we (the government) do,” Bachelet warned. “The private sector must invest and make the economy work. Because we have a budget heavy on investments. We will continue extending (operating) concessions in new areas, like the Metro.”
The government is working to jump-start more than 100 private investment projects that, for various reasons, remain on hold, she said.
“We have identified a $6 billion portfolio, to begin with. We are working to remove obstacles for every project that meets the legal requirements, because we know bureaucracy can cause harm,” the president said.