They demand live that Petro turn a “deaf ear” and “take refuge in that excuse” of blaming the Bank of the Republic for the crisis

Luc Williams

José Manuel Restrepo, former Minister of Finance; Jaime Alberto Cabal, president of Fenalco; Bruce Mac Master, president of Andi, and Juan Daniel Oviedo, councilor of Bogotá and former director of Dane, spoke with .

They did so after the discouraging figures from the National Administrative Department of Statistics (Dane) on the Colombian economy, a fact that led President Gustavo Petro to blame the Bank of the Republic.

According to Dane, “in the first quarter of 2024, compared to the immediately previous quarter, GDP grew 1.1% in its series adjusted for seasonal and calendar effects. In the first quarter of 2024, GDP in its original series grows 0.7% compared to the same period of the previous year.”

Although the Colombian economy did not reach one percent growth, President Gustavo Petro highlighted it. “We are triumphing, without declaring victory, because what grew was agriculture with fishing and forestry, but only in products from the agricultural sector it grew 9.3%. When had agriculture grown 9.3% in Colombia?”

Referring to the consolidated GDP growth, the president pointed out that the Dane report shows “how a model that began to become extinct since the second half of 2022 is emerging, and a new economic model based on production, not extraction, begins to appear. . “Some defend it, we proposed changing it, obviously we almost reached zero of this economic model (extractivism),” he stated.

“It is still too early to claim victory, but it shows us that it is going like this, and it is sustainable. That is, if we can keep it like this, if we have perseverance, in a certain way stubbornness, we can move Colombia towards another development model, that is the central point of a political debate,” he said.

Bruce Mac Master, president of the National Association of Industrialists (Andi), was emphatic in saying that the growth of the Colombian economy, equivalent to 0.7% during the first quarter of 2024, It is a figure that is really not good. “The truth is that it is the fourth quarter in which we are talking about figures that are around 0.5%, a little above, a little below. Our economy is really stabilizing (…) we are going to end up producing more poverty, much less employment, much less production capacity, much less capacity to have a productive apparatus that allows us to diversify our exports,” he said.

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“Nothing tells us that things are going to change fundamentally, which is even more worrying,” he added, considering it normal that President Petro wants to appear in public as if everything was fine, but express his concern because the president internally believes his truths. and do not accept that there is an economic crisis.

In a message published in X, President Petro was no longer so optimistic and pointed to the Bank of the Republic. “It is true that thanks to government action we have not only been prevented from entering a recession, but we are also encouraging the private sector to get out of negative numbers. But they are wrong when they say that the private sector entered negative numbers due to the tax reform. This was already destroyed by constitutional ruling. We must tell the truth to the population. The red numbers of the private sector are established by the drop in housing construction that drags down industrial products for construction and is added to the drop in car sales in commerce. What causes homes and cars not to be in demand? What causes the fall in demand for housing and cars is the rise in the real interest rate dictated by the Bank of the Republic. While the interest rate strangles the Colombian economy, the countercyclical action of my government makes it refloat.”

Jaime Alberto Cabal, president of the National Federation of Merchants (Fenalco), said that President Gustavo Petro turns “a deaf ear and, lately, a mute. He neither manages nor makes nor announces comprehensive shock measures, but is proposing everything through public spending, debt, breaking the fiscal rule. There is no real reactivation plan. Unfortunately, the Government does not even invite, as other presidents have done when there is a crisis.”

Cabal added that the lack of a “helmsman” affects trade, with 15 of the 19 sectors in red. And in this regard, he assured that the Bank of the Republic looked for ways to control inflation, adopted responsible measures and today President Petro does not miss an opportunity to charge against the Issuer. “There are many wrong measures that have been taken.”

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José Manuel Restrepo assured, for his part, that if the Bank of the Republic had not controlled inflation, the country would be in an economic crisis like that of Argentina. “What is responsible is what the Bank of the Republic has done, they acted responsibly.” Oviedo, for his part, said that “the Bank of the Republic did what it had to do.”

According to Restrepo, the private sector is not convinced to invest in Colombia if, for example, “a labor reform that is totally contrary to trust” is announced. “It is an anti-labor labor reform.”

Bruce Mac Master assured that he has been critical of the country's monetary policy and considered that the Bank of the Republic was late in taking action. Likewise, he said, it is the Issuer's pillar to control inflation, rather than think about economic growth. “Not all the fault lies with the Bank of the Republic. It is worrying that the Government takes refuge in that excuse.”


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