President Juan Manuel Santos said Thursday Colombia’s economy could grow by as much as 6.5% this year, and hailed a rising demand in credit that he said is at an all-time high.
“The central bank says 2011 growth could reach 6.5%, and we hope it is true, we hope to attain this,” Santos said at a Colombia-Brazil investment forum in Bogota.
The Colombian economy expanded 5.1% in the first quarter. The central bank has been increasing its key rate for six straight months, lifting it to 4.5% in its July 29 monetary policy meeting.
In that meeting the central bank also increased its 2011 economic growth projection to a range of 4.5% to 6.5% from a previous estimate of 4% to 6%.
Santos also noted a 20% rise in demand for housing, business and other loans, saying credit demand is at “the highest level in the history of Colombia.”
A main challenge going forward, the president said, is that the positive economic data must translate into a reduction in poverty and an increase in jobs.
Santos, who at the end of the week completes his first year as Colombia’s leader, said his goal for 2014 was to reduce joblessness to single-digit percentages. However, noting that the nationwide unemployment rate fell to 10.9% in June, he said the target should be reached before the end of 2011. (Dan Molinski / Dow Jones Newswires)