QUITO – Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said Saturday that his country’s economic growth in 2008, which according to the latest estimates was 6.5 percent, was among Latin America’s highest despite the international financial crisis that exploded in the last quarter of the year.
“The latest estimates from the Banco Central say that total growth in 2008 was 6.5 percent – that’s the highest in a long time,” Correa said on his customary Saturday radio and television program.
The head of state stressed how well the economy performed in 2008 despite the downturn in the oil sector, the country’s most important, for lack of investment by private companies operating in Ecuador.
He also said that if the oil sector were removed from the calculations, the Ecuadorian economy last year grew 7.95 percent, which would represent the highest surge since the 1970s when Ecuador enjoyed an “oil boom.”
But he said that even without applying that hypothesis, Ecuador’s economic growth was among the highest in Latin America, despite the downturn in the world economy during the final months of 2008.
The government estimates that, because of the international crisis, the national economy will grow less than 3 percent this year, if international financial difficulties continue.
“We have managed the crisis pretty well and the effects are still minimal, thank God, but we’re still going to feel it,” above all in the employment sector, Correa said, who has applied a series of measures to minimize the impact of the crisis.
He recalled that at the beginning of the year he applied restrictions on imports to avoid balance-of-payment problems for the country, and undertook programs to stimulate domestic production and strategies to seek funding for regional credit organizations.
Despite those measures, he admitted that the crisis has caused some unemployment and because of that he recalled that this week he announced a plan to improve the labor situation, which aims to generate more than 80,000 jobs in the short term.