Bolivia Achieves Record Levels of Economic and Social Growth in 2021

Bolivian president Luis Arce during his visit to Humatoma school in the capital La Paz on December 22. Photo: Luis Arce/Twitter

Under the rule of President Luis Arce and vice president David Choquehuanca of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, Bolivia recovered from the economic losses suffered during the coup regime of Jeanine Áñez

After suffering deep economic setbacks during the de-facto rule of coup-installed president Jeanine Áñez, Bolivia’s economy not only recovered but achieved new levels of economic and social growth in 2021. Under the rule of President Luis Arce and vice president David Choquehuanca of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, the country’s exports grew at record levels, the unemployment rate fell sharply, the lithium revenue generated historic income, and the economy is estimated to grow by over 5% in 2022.

President Arce, on January 2, reported that the country’s exports until November 2021 exceeded 9.9 billion USD, the highest figure in the last three years. “With hope, work and, above all, with unity, that’s how we started 2022. As of November 2021, our exports exceeded 9.9 billion USD, the highest in three years, with a trade surplus of 1.7 billion USD. It’s just the beginning! We are moving forward,” tweeted the head of state.

At the same time, the vice minister of foreign trade and integration, Benjamín Blanco, reported that the country is set to beat another record, with 10 billion USD until December, a figure that has not been reached since 2014. “Exports are going to reach around 10 billion USD. It is a figure that has not been reached since 2014, we are going to break a record after many years in exports and that also leaves us with a positive trade balance of more than 1.5 billion USD, after eight years we did not have a credit balance for our country,” he said.

Blanco also reported that not only was there a growth in the value of exports, but also their volume increased. He highlighted that the country obtained international recognition for the quality of cocoa, which will allow it to be exported at better prices. He also said that the country intends to reach the European market with Bolivian wine in 2022.

Meanwhile, on January 4, the minister of economy and public finance, Marcelo Montenegro reported that between May 2020 and October 2021, more than 1.1 million Bolivians got jobs, and unemployment decreased from 11.6% to 5%. “The economy has recovered, the growth rate of six percent is not negligible, with falling unemployment, inflation and deficits controlled, the positive trade balance and exports are growing,” said Montenegro.

He said that in 2022, the government will continue working to generate jobs for Bolivians in various sectors. “The prospects for 2022 management have a tendency to continue improving in employment and income, as well as greater dynamics in construction, transportation, manufacturing, mining and other sectors,” he said.

On January 5, the ministry of hydrocarbons and energies reported that the Bolivian Lithium Mineral company (YLB) generated a historic income of around 28 million USD from sales in 2021. It said that it is the result of the sales of potassium chloride and lithium carbonate in the national and international markets.

The main countries that demand Bolivian lithium carbonate are China, Russia and the United States, while those that require potassium chloride are Chile and Brazil, according to data from YLB. Apart from exports, both products are also marketed to small producers in the national market through the company’s outlets in Uyuni and Cochabamba cities.

Based on the positive indexes registered in 2021, such as the 6% increase in the country’s GDP as compared to a -8.8% in 2020, Bolivian economic analysts have forecasted an economic growth of 5.1% for 2022.

Nicaragua Could Triple Its Exports to China in the Medium Term

Source: TeleSUR

The new ties with China enable the Central American nation new prospects for trade and foreign direct investment. | Photo: Twitter/@KawsachunNews

Nicaragua could triple its exportable volume of traditional products to China in the next ten years if a large-scale investment project is established, said the president of the Nicaraguan Council of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (Conimipyme), Leonardo Torres.

“We have enough land, we have no land limit and we have no water limit, which is key for productivity. What Nicaragua needs are irrigation systems to be able to increase its productive cycle. Nicaragua bases its productive cycle in winter and summer, but we do not have massive irrigation systems and China has those massive irrigation systems, which means a great opportunity for Nicaragua,” Torres explained.

After his arrival from the People’s Republic of China on Sunday December 12, the Minister of Finance and Public Credit, Ivan Acosta, said that the restoration of relations between the governments of Beijing and Managua opens “space for greater investment” and an expansion of the market for Nicaraguan exports, estimated at more than 3.5 billion dollars in 2021.

RELATED: China and Nicaragua Reestablish Diplomatic Relations

“The aspiration is to double that amount in the next 10 years and this is only possible with a large market that demands our product and we can establish all the necessary mechanisms to attract more investments, higher quality investments that energize our country’s exports to the world and to the People’s Republic of China,” Acosta said.

The opportunity for the economic development of the Central American nation could reach US$20 billion in the next decade if one considers Chinese investment in Nicaragua with planting and harvesting technology and communication technology in the existing free trade zone, where annual exports are around US$3 billion.

“Nicaragua could easily become an assembler of communication technology, cell phones, home appliances, we can perfectly assemble televisions, sound equipment and Chinese investment could come to settle in technological free trade zones, there is a great opportunity for us,” he said.

The expectations with the new context of international trade development relations of Nicaragua “excite” the businessmen of this country, because according to the head of Conimipyme, it would allow them a sustained growth of up to 9% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“Here you have another potential for these zones, say $2 billion more in free trade zones tripled for the next 10 years, we would be talking about an exportable development with a jump of the Gross Domestic Product of Nicaragua to 8 to 9% and we would no longer be talking about 4%, for that you have to have the infrastructure of Nicaragua to work on this,” detailed Torres.

The businessman considered that the Government of Nicaragua should rethink the National Plan for the Fight against Poverty and Human Development 2022-2027 to redirect the approaches and development goals for the next five years.

The Nicaraguan government on December 9 recognized China as a single territory and broke off relations with Taiwan, which had been in place since 1990.

The new ties with China enable the Central American nation new prospects for trade and foreign direct investment advanced in conservations between the Government of Nicaragua, the China International Development Cooperation Agency and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and Investment.

Xi Asks CELAC To Work With China To Overcome Difficulties

Source: TeleSur

December 3 2021

President Xi Jinping, Beijing, China, Dec. 3, 2021. | Photo: Xinhua

Despite pressure from the United States, economic relations between Latin American nations and China continue to flourish.

On Friday, China’s President Xi Jinping asked the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to increase its cooperation modalities with China in order to overcome together the difficulties and challenges that contemporary globalization generates.

RELATED: Cuba Participates in III China-CELAC Forum

“China welcomes Latin American and Caribbean countries to actively participate in the Global Development Initiative and work together with China to overcome difficulties, create opportunities and push forward a global community of development with shared future,” he said when addressing the third Ministerial Meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States via video link.

“Stressing that peaceful development, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation is the correct path, Xi said that China and CELAC countries are comprehensive cooperative partners following the principle of equality, mutual benefit, and common development,” Chinese outlet CGTN reported.

During the 1st CELAC-China meeting in 2015, Xi announced that his country would increase its investments in LATAM up to US$250 billion and double bilateral trade to US$500 billion before 2025.

Later, at the second CELAC-China meeting that took place in Chile in 2018, the Latin American countries signed the “Declaration of Santiago” committing themselves to innovate the modalities of cooperation with China to achieve sustainable growth and social welfare.

Back then, Xi promoted the New Silk Road, an ambitious project that seeks to improve China’s connection with its main partners on various continents. Despite the fact that the United States is putting pressure on developing countries not to join this proposal, the relations of Latin American nations with China continue to flourish.

In the first three quarters of 2021, China-LATAM trade reached US$331 billion, which represented an increase of 45.5 percent compared to the same period last year. Regarding these achievements, Xi recalled that his nation and the CELAC countries “lent each other a hand” during the pandemic, which allowed trading partners to overcome the economic contraction and resume the path of growth.

Bolivia: Evo Morales Presents Govt. Progress Report

Source:  TeleSUR
January 22 2018

The Indigenous leader showed a graph with data proving that Bolivia is the “first in economic growth in all of South America.”

evo morales feb 2018.jpg

Bolivian President Evo Morales. | Photo: Reuters

Bolivian President Evo Morales has presented a report on government progress under his administration to the country’s Plurinational Legislative Assembly on the 12th anniversary of its foundation.

RELATED:  Bolivia’s Infant Mortality Rate Significantly Reduced by 56%

“There are already 12 years of social and political stability, 12 years of the formation of the Plurinational State, and I am here to give an account to all the Bolivian people,” Morales said, thanking those who accompanied him during his administration.

The people came to power

The head of state said “the presence of assembly members of all colors, of all sectors, is proof that the people came to power.”

Morales said that his country’s economic, political and social achievements have made Bolivia one of the fastest-developing and improving economies in South America.

“We have showed that our beloved Bolivia is moving forward. We have important data from international organizations where we demonstrate the growth of our nation and the union of the Bolivian people.”

First in economic growth

The Indigenous president showed a graph with data from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund proving that Bolivia is the “first in economic growth in all of South America.”

He compared growth between 1994-2005 to 2006-2017, pointing out that GDP boosted significantly during his tenure.

“Despite international economic onslaught, we continue to grow and become one of the economic engines of Latin America,” Morales said.

The Bolivian leader also highlighted government support for public investment, demonstrating that the central government supported governorates, municipalities and universities in the execution of their projects.

ECLAC: Blockade impedes economic growth in Cuba

Source:  cubadebate
July 30 2015

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), yesterday July 29, noted Cuba’s positive economic growth thus far this year, while emphasizing that the U.S. blockade continues to impede the country’s progress.

The blockade is still a formidable obstacle

The blockade is still a formidable obstacle

During a press conference here, ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena was asked about Cuba’s economic perspectives. She commented that, although progress has been significant, “The blockade is still a formidable obstacle.”

Bárcena told PL that despite the easing of restrictions in some areas, including tourism, trade and others “The truth is that the blockade continues to increase costs.”

The cost of the blockade to Cuba in 2014 was approximately 117 billion dollars

She added that the organization had submitted a report to the UN General Assembly which estimates the cost of the blockade to Cuba in 2014 as approximately 117 billion dollars.

“In any event, we believe that there will be more activity in 11 areas, which are going to attract foreign investment, such as food processing, bio-chemicals, renewable energy, construction, and operations at the new Port of Mariel,” Bárcena said.

She noted that Cuba had surpassed ECLAC’s initial projections, showing growth of 4% during the first part of the year.

Although deceleration is generalized around the region, the Southern Cone sub-region contracted at a rate of 0.4%, while Central America and Mexico grew only 2.8%. The Caribbean as a whole posted a growth rate of only 1.7%.

Panama lead regional expansion with a 6% rate, followed by Antigua and Barbuda (5.4%), the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua (both 4.8 %), she said.

Source:  ECLAC: Blockade impedes economic growth in Cuba  cubadebate

Raul: We will continue the process of transformations in Cuban society at our own pace

Source:  Granma
July 6 2015

Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, during the closure of the National Assembly of People’s Power Eighth Legislature’s Fifth Period of Ordinary Sessions, in the Havana Convention Center, July 15, 2015, Year 57 of the Revolution

(Council of State transcript)

raul july 2015Compañeras and compañeros:

Over the last few months we have witnessed several events of great importance to the country, about which you and our people have been informed in a timely fashion.

As is customary, deputies have received abundant information about the performance of the economy during the first half of the year, and estimates through the end of the year.

The decelerating growth rate of the Gross Domestic Product – known as GDP – a trend which has appeared in recent years, has clearly been reversed. As of June 30, the GDP had grown 4.7%, and we estimate that at the conclusion of the year it will stand at about 4%. And this is very good, considering that last year we only grew 1%. Nevertheless, to reach the expected 4%, we must work hard and in a very disciplined manner, above all in the economic sphere, as Minister of the Economy Marino Murillo indicated.

Production 

Despite several unmet projections, production in the sugar industry and manufacturing increased, as well as in construction, commerce, tourism, and agricultural production, despite the fact that the latter is suffering the effects of the prolonged drought occurring throughout the national territory.

I must emphasize, in this context, the need for more rational use of this vital resource, as several compañeras and compañeros have said. At the end of June, water stored in reservoirs stood at only 38% of capacity – today it stands at 36.1%, as the president of the Water Resources Institute, Inés María Chapman, reported – with the least favorable situations existing in the provinces of Guantánamo, Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Las Tunas, Ciego de Ávila, Sancti Spíritus and Pinar del Río.

Difficulties

One of the most disappointing aspects of the plan’s implementation is to be found in the transportation sector, which led to difficulties in the economy’s performance, a result of organizational shortcomings and the low level of technical availability in the railroad and automotive systems, associated with the lack of replacement parts and problems in maintenance and repair. This situation was aggravated by delays in the arrival to the country of equipment projected for last year and this year, the majority of which should arrive in 2015.

In addition to the above is the decision adopted in the recent Council of Ministers meeting, to distribute means of transportation, as well as construction equipment, from state reserves, and expedite the ordering of equipment initially under consideration for the 2016 plan.

Social services

During the first half of the year we have faced severe external financial constraints. Nevertheless, the country has continued rigorously fulfilling its payment obligations to foreign creditors and providers, a practice which favors the gradual re-establishment of the national economy’s credibility, despite the U.S. blockade which remains in full force.

Amidst these difficulties, we have been able to maintain social services for the population – a question we will never neglect – and, as evidence of this, we can point out that the country’s epidemiological situation has improved substantially.

What’s more, monetary and financial stability has been maintained. Inflation, in general, has been contained to predicted levels, between three and five percent, although we cannot ignore the justified concerns of the population regarding the high prices of agricultural products, which are increasing more than the average salary.

You have noticed that on this occasion, unlike previous sessions of the National Assembly, information has not been included on progress in the implementation of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines approved by the 6th Party Congress, given that we considered more convenient a focus on the development of a draft report on this issue to be presented at the 7th Congress in April 2016, just as was called for by the Central Committee Plenum held yesterday.

Updating our economic and social model

I will, however, refer briefly to the principal tasks undertaken in the interest of updating our economic and social model. Among these is the elaboration of the theoretical conceptualization of socialism in Cuba, and the strategic guidelines and sectors to be included in the economic and social development plan through 2030. Both documents will be among those analyzed during the next Party Congress.

At the same time, progress continues in the strengthening of the role which the socialist state enterprise must play, as the fundamental element in the national economy, adjusting approved measures in a timely fashion and incorporating others related to more flexible functioning and to salary systems based on the results of work.

Likewise, several changes have been implemented in the economic planning process, in accordance with the perfecting of the enterprise system, which has facilitated the more comprehensive incorporation into the plan of policies approved as part of the implementation of the guidelines, and the programming of monetary balances in the plan and state budget.

Monetary unification

Progress continues in the completion of the group of measures directed toward monetary unification, an extremely complex process which is indispensable to the efficient performance of the economy. It is worth reiterating what has been said on numerous occasions before our Parliament, about bank deposits being guaranteed, in international currencies, Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) and Cuban pesos (CUP), as well as cash held by the population, or national and foreign incorporated entities.

In the same way, the experimental process of creating non-agricultural cooperatives continues to advance, with the priorities of consolidating those which are in place and gradually advancing in the constitution of new cooperatives, without repeating the distortions already identified.

Self-employment

Along with this, slightly more than half a million Cubans are functioning as self-employed workers in multiple activities, a figure which will continue to increase in a gradual fashion, as restaurants and services for the population are transferred to this management mode, while preserving state ownership of buildings.

We will continue the process of transformations in Cuban society at our own pace, which we have chosen with sovereignty, with the majority support of the people, in the interest of constructing a prosperous and sustainable socialism, the essential guarantee of our independence.

International action

The first half of the year has been characterized by intense international action.

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Third Summit, held in January in Costa Rica, expressed the firm demand that the economic, commercial and financial blockade be ended, and called upon President Obama to utilize with resolve his broad executive authority to substantially modify the application of this policy. Just days later, the African Union Summit made a similar statement.

The 7th Summit of the Americas, attended for the first time by Cuba, held in Panama in April, provided a propitious opportunity for the region to reiterate its support to the just struggle of our people against the blockade, and insist on the necessity of modifying hemispheric relations in this era, when it can no longer be treated as a back yard.

Precisely in Panama, we held a meeting with the President of the United States.

Foreign policy 

My words at the two events reflected the invariable, principled foreign policy position of the Cuban Revolution, and expressed loyalty to the ideas which our people have defended, despite dangers and challenges, with the guidance of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz. This frees me from repeating them here today, since they are well-known to you.

Solidarity 

Nevertheless, I must reiterate our solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution and the government headed by President Nicolás Maduro, in the face of destabilization attempts and any act of external intervention. We were pleased to learn of the results of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s primary elections, while we are carefully following the dialogue underway between this country and the United States.

We denounce the destabilization campaigns against the government of President Rafael Correa and the Citizen’s Revolution in Ecuador, to which we confirm Cuba’s solidarity.

An imperialist and oligarchic offensive 

We notice that an imperialist and oligarchic offensive has been put into practice against Latin American revolutionary and progressive processes, which will be decisively confronted by our peoples.

This Parliament sends solidarity greetings to President Dilma Rousseff and the Brazilian people who defend the important social and political progress of regional integration and of the countries of the South against attempts to reverse these.

In early May, we attended the impressive commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the victory over fascism in Moscow, an episode that no one can distort or erase from the memory of humanity.

We warned early on, in this very hall, that the attempt to extend NATO to Russia’s borders would bring serious threats to international peace and security.

Russia

Today we reaffirm that the intention of imposing sanctions on Russia will harm the interests of Europe, and bring greater instability and new dangers. This position was put forward once again by Cuba at the Second CELAC-European Union Summit, where we also ratified our disposition to dialogue and cooperate with the European bloc, with which we are negotiating an agreement on this matter. On this occasion our delegation was led by First Vice President compañero Miguel Díaz -Canel.

We welcome the agreement reached between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Security Council group of permanent members plus Germany. We reiterate our support for the inalienable right of all states to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. This result demonstrates that dialogue and negotiation are the only effective tools to resolve differences between states.

Pope Francis

At this time, we are preparing to receive Pope Francis in September, with the affection, respect and hospitality he deserves.

His advocacy of peace and equity, the eradication of poverty, protection of the environment and his analysis of the causes of humanity’s problems arouse worldwide admiration, which we have all followed closely, especially during his memorable tour of Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.

It was already reported that on July 20, as a result of the negotiations taking place in a respectful manner, and on an equal footing, diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States will be officially restored, and embassies will reopen in the respective capitals; firstly ours.

Normalization

Thus the first phase of the process initiated on December 17 will have concluded, and a new, long complex stage will then begin, on the path toward the normalization of relations, which will require the will to find solutions to problems that have accumulated for more than five decades and affect the ties between our countries and peoples. As we have said, it’s a question of establishing a new type of relation between the two states, different from those of all our common history.

As indicated in the Statement of the Revolutionary Government of July 1, it is inconceivable, while the blockade is maintained, that there be normal relations between Cuba and the United States.

President Obama

In recognizing the call by President Obama on the U.S. Congress to lift the blockade of Cuba, reiterated in his statement last July 1, we hope that he continues using his executive powers, that is, those decisions that he as President can adopt without Congressional involvement, to dismantle aspects of this policy, which causes damage and hardships to our people. Naturally, the parliament, namely Congress, is responsible for the rest of the blockade measures.

To normalize bilateral ties it will also be necessary that the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base is returned; illegal radio and television transmissions to Cuba ended; programs aimed at promoting destabilization and internal subversion eliminated; and the Cuban people compensated for the human and economic damages caused by the policies of the United States.

Changing everything which must be changed is the sovereign and exclusive domain of Cubans. The Revolutionary Government is willing to advance in the normalization of relations, convinced that both countries can cooperate and coexist in a civilized manner, to our mutual benefit, beyond the differences we have and will have, thus contributing to peace, security , stability, development and equity in our continent and the world.

An extraordinary example of solidarity, altruism and personal courage

Compañeras and compañeros:

A few weeks ago, the homeland received the members of the “Henry Reeve” Contingent who participated in the battle against Ebola in West Africa, where they provided an extraordinary example of solidarity, altruism and personal courage in confronting this deadly epidemic. Our eternal tribute to Jor­ge Juan Guerra Rodríguez and Reynaldo Vi­lla­franca Antigua, the two collaborators who died of other diseases contracted during the fulfillment of that mission.

In addition, a Cuban medical brigade, which will return in the coming days, assisted with great spirit of solidarity the victims of the earthquakes in the mountains of Nepal.

Our country will continue to fulfill, in accordance with its means, and with our internationalist duty to support peoples in need, as today tens of thousands of compatriots in over 80 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia are doing, under the principle that those who can defray the collaboration do so, and we will continue helping those who do not have the resources.

July 26th

In just 10 days we will celebrate the 62nd anniversary of the attacks on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes barracks and the 500th anniversary of the founding of the city of Santiago de Cuba. There we will share with this valiant people the joy at these events – valiant like the rest of the country, including the Isle of Youth and adjacent keys (applause) – and hear the words of the Second Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party, José Ramón Machado Ventura (applause).

Anyone who today compares this heroic city with that which was left after being ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, less than three years ago, will understand that nothing is impossible for a united people, like ours, willing to fight and defend the work of their Revolution.

See you in Santiago,

Thank you very much. (Prolonged applause)

Ecuador Is a Successful Latin American Economy

Source:  TeleSUR

A leading U.S. economist talks with teleSUR about the economic achievements of Ecuador’s left-wing government.

ecuador is seeking to change its economy to higher value sectors

Ecuador is seeking to change its economy to higher value sectors

Rafael CorreaOne key success story of Ecuador’s Citizens’ Revolution has been the strong economic growth achieved despite President Rafael Correa coming to power on the eve of the global crisis, and the fact the country does not have its own currency, after adopting the U.S. dollar in 2000.

teleSUR spoke to economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), Mark Weisbrot, in Washington, to discuss how this came about.

teleSUR: How would you describe the economic record of the Correa government over the past 8 years? “

Mark Weisbrot: The Ecuadorean government has done very well over the past eight years, despite experiencing some serious shocks, including the oil price collapse in 2008, and then the Global Recession of 2008-2009.

It did this despite its currency peg to the U.S. dollar, which meant that the government was severely limited in its use of monetary policy and could not use exchange rate policy at all in order to counter the downturn.

Gross domestic product growth per capita averaged 2.5 percent annually for 2007-2014, and (for the same period)  poverty was reduced by more than 30 percent (from 36.7 to 24.8 percent of the population).

Government revenues increased enormously

Public investment increased from 4.6 percent of GDP to 14.8 percent, boosted by increased tax revenues. Government revenues increased enormously from 24.1 percent of GDP in 2006 to 38.9 percent in 2014, thanks to much faster economic growth, the new taxes on the financial sector, a bigger take from foreign oil companies, and better collection of taxes owed.

Inequality was considerably reduced

Inequality was considerably reduced, with the ratio of the income of the richest decile and the poorest falling from 36 to 25. And the proportion of the urban labor force enrolled in the Social Security system increased from 26 to 67 percent.

teleSUR: Why has it experienced stronger growth than under previous governments?

MW: Under Correa, Ecuador broke with the neoliberal “Washington Consensus” policies that it had long pursued. Correa’s government regained control over the Central Bank and was able to bring down interest rates.

It increased the requirement for how much liquid assets banks are required to keep in Ecuador, from 45 percent to 60 percent. It instituted a tax on capital flight. The Central Bank was required to repatriate billions in assets held abroad. The government created a liquidity fund.

The government took a tougher line with banks and other private business

The government also took a tougher line with banks and other private business, with new restrictions preventing banks from owning media companies, and anti-trust enforcement, while at the same time promoting expansion of credit-unions, co-ops and other parts of the “popular and solidarity sector” of the financial system.

Expansionary fiscal policy was part of the solution, with a stimulus that amounted to nearly 5 percent of GDP beginning in 2009.

teleSUR: In which areas has Ecuador focused its public stimulus?

MW: Housing, health care, cash transfers and education have been key areas. There was a 50 percent increase in credit for housing, financed mainly through the Social Security Institute and including concessional mortgage lending, which targeted low-income groups who might otherwise not have been able to afford to buy a home.

The government expanded its main cash transfer program, the Bono de Desarrollo Humano, by nearly one-fourth, through outreach to eligible families who were not already enrolled.

The Correa administration doubled spending on health care

In its first few years, the Correa administration doubled spending on health care, as compared to past levels, to 3.5 percent of GDP (about US$1.8 billion). This included spending on free health care programs, which was expanded, especially for children and pregnant women.

Spending on education also increased, with school fees eliminated, a free breakfast program expanded, and the government providing school children with free textbooks, school materials and uniforms.

teleSUR: How important was the cancellation of its international debt in improving Ecuador’s economic performance?

MW: The international commission that was convened in 2007 to examine Ecuador’s debt found that US$3.2 billion – about one-third of the country’s foreign debt – was illegally or illegitimately contracted.

The government stopped payment on the debt the month after the commission announced its findings, and then defaulted, buying up the defaulted bonds for about 35 cents on the dollar. The country had little to lose since it could hardly borrow on international markets at the time. Still it was unusual, and perhaps unprecedented, to see such a “default of choice,” as the government’s debt service at the time was just 1.5 percent of GDP.

Its debt service (interest payments on the public debt) remained at a low 1.3 percent of GDP in 2013. The debt audit and subsequent default and buy-back was important in both the short and long term. In the short term, it wiped off a third of the country’s foreign debt and much of its debt service at a huge discount, reducing its foreign debt obligations to 17 percent of GDP. It also helped to convince foreign investors that Ecuador’s ability to repay its non-defaulted debt had increased.

Source:  US Economist: Ecuador Is a Successful Latin American Economy  TeleSUR

READ MORE: teleSUR Agenda on the Ecuador’s Citizens’ Revolution

Dump the Dollar, Says Ecuadorian President

President Rafael Correa says the U.S. dollar is the “exact opposite” of what Ecuador needs.

Rafael CorreaEcuador’s use of the U.S. dollar is hurting the country’s economic growth, President Rafael Correa warned Monday.  “Dollarization was a bad decision,” Correa said. The president said that in the face of low oil prices, Ecuador would benefit from control of its own currency.

Ecuador is the smallest member of OPEC. Under Correa, the Ecuadorean government has increasingly invested oil revenues in social services and economic development.  However, with oil prices slumping, Correa says Ecuador needs a flexible currency now more than ever. He argued that by using the dollar, Ecuador is “doing exactly the opposite of what (it) must do to address the looming scenario.”

US dollar a “straight jacket” Continue reading

Group of 77 Declaration: For a New World Order for Living Well

Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Group of 77
For a New World Order for Living Well
Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Plurinational State of Bolivia, 14 and 15 June 2014

official declaration group of 77 june 2014

Declaration

Part I: Overall context

1.       We, the Heads of State and Government of the member States of the Group of 77 and China, have gathered in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Plurinational State of Bolivia, for the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Group.

2.       We commemorate the formation of the Group of 77 on 15 June 1964 and recall the ideals and principles contained in the historic Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Developing Countries, signed at the end of the first session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), held in Geneva.

3.       We recall that the first ever statement of the Group of 77 pledged to promote equality in the international economic and social order and promote the interests of the developing world, declared their unity under a common interest and defined the Group as “an instrument for enlarging the area of cooperative endeavour in the international field and for securing mutually beneficent relationships with the rest of the world”.

4.       We also recall the first Ministerial Meeting of the Group of 77, held in Algiers from 10 to 25 October 1964, at which the Group adopted the Charter of Algiers, which established the principles of unity, complementarity, cooperation and solidarity of the developing countries and their determination to strive for economic and social development, individually or collectively.

5.       We highlight that the Group of 77 has provided the means for the countries of the South to articulate and promote their collective social and economic interests and enhanced their joint negotiating capacity within the United Nations system, and note with satisfaction that the Group has established a permanent secretariat at United Nations Headquarters in New York and chapters in Geneva, Nairobi, Paris, Rome, Vienna and the Group of 24 in Washington, D.C., and that its membership now stands at 133 member States.

6.       We also recall the successful holding of the first South Summit of the Groupof 77 and China in Havana in April 2000 and the second South Summit in Doha in June 2005, at which the status of the Group of 77 and China was elevated to the level of Heads of State and Government and at which important declarations and plans of action were adopted that have guided our Group and constitute the fundamental basis for the construction of a new world order and an agenda owned by the countries of the South for the establishment of a more just, democratic and equal system that benefits our peoples.

7.       We pledge to continue the tradition of our countries on building national development and uniting at the international level, towards the establishment of a just international order in the world economy that supports developing countries achieve our objectives of sustained economic growth, full employment, social equity, provision of basic goods and services to our people, protection of the environment and living in harmony with nature.

8.       We are proud of the legacy and great achievements of the Group of 77 and China in defending and promoting the interest of the developing countries over the past 50 years, which have contributed gradually to greater strength and influence on economic, social and environmental issues. We pledge to build on this foundation and continue making progress towards a world order that is just, equitable, stable and peaceful. Major landmarks in this regard have been the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order in 1974, the Declaration on the Right to Development in 1986 and several other historic declarations that recognize and address the needs and interests of developing countries and constitute an utmost priority.

9.       We believe in the peaceful settlement of conflicts through dialogue.

10.     We also note that, despite five decades of achievements, there are still serious shortfalls in fulfilling our Group’s objectives, and that our countries individually and collectively now face ongoing and emerging challenges, including the slowdown of the global economy and its effects on our countries and the lack of adequate systemic action and accountability to address the causes and effects of the global financial and economic crises, thus creating the risk of continuing with the pattern of crisis cycles.

11.     We also note the gaps in many of our countries in meeting the needs of employment, food, water, health care, education, housing, physical infrastructure and energy of our people, as well as the looming environmental crisis, including the negative impacts of climate change in developing countries, the increasing shortage of drinking water and the loss of biodiversity.

12.     We stress that imbalances in the global economy and the inequitable structures and outcomes in the trading, financial, monetary and technological systems led to the establishment of our Group. Nevertheless, these imbalances still prevail today in some ways with even more adverse effects on developing countries. Therefore, we pledge to continue and intensify our efforts to strive for a fair, just and equitable international order oriented towards the fulfilment of the development needs of developing countries.

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Witter: Lessons from the IMF Experiences

mikey witter 2In reflecting on our 50 years of Independence, the Government of Jamaica and the IMF should draw lessons from the 39 years of borrowing from the IMF to help to frame the agreement currently being negotiated.  So much has changed in our attitudes since the history-changing agreement with the IMF of 1977.  Today’s negotiators were university students then, and conscious enough to understand the critiques of the agreements of those years and the global and domestic political interests the agreements supported, whether intended or not. (Photo:  Dr. Michael Witter)

The lead IMF negotiator of the aborted 2010 agreement is one of several Jamaicans who occupy very senior positions in the IMF.  One of their peers, who is currently a lead negotiator for the Government of Jamaica, co-authored one of the most incisive and cited critiques of the IMF’s relations with the Third World, using Jamaica as a case study.  In 1977, Jamaica and the IMF knew very little about each other. Today, after hundreds of studies of the IMF, and after many international and local studies of the Jamaican economy, the negotiators for both sides know a lot more about each other.

Read more at:  http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120708/focus/focus3.html