Colombia’s central bank and the country’s government clashed after the president of the central bank indicated that the country’s economy “stagnated.”
The concerns expressed last week by central bank president Juan Jose Echavarria about Colombia’s growing inflation, poverty and unemployment, and dropping consumer confidence were the last thing President Ivan Duque and his finance minister, Alberto Carrasquilla, wanted to hear.
Duque has spent months trying to convince Colombians that his government is “reactivating” the country’s economy that was allegedly neglected by his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos despite registered increases in poverty, unemployment and dropping consumer confidence.
At a public event on Saturday, Duque insisted that the economy “is recovering and we will continue to work so that it grows more.”
But Echavarria told bankers last week that the economy has “stagnated” since Duque took office in August last year, blaming much on the polarization ignited up by Duque’s far-right Democratic Center Party and his political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe.
The comments immediately spurred a furious response from Carrasquilla, who told the central bank president to limit his positions on public policy in public.
While Carrasquilla was forced to admit that the economy in the first quarter of this year did not grow as fast as previously predicted, “I’m convinced that there’s no polarization in the country, or at least not any that has an effect on the decisions of business people and consumers.”
Duque said on Friday that Echavarria told him on the phone that “the economy is not stagnated.”
According to Duque, “the real message we should tell Colombians” is “that we need it to grow more and we will work harder for it to grow more.”
Echavarria is not the first to correct false claims made by Duque in his attempts to promote his unpopular economic policy.
In February, Duque told potential foreign investors in the United States that Colombia’s economic growth in the last quarter of 2018 was 3.4%. Statistics agency revealed two weeks later that this had been 2.8%.