UPDATE 2-Colombia expansionist monetary policy to continue -policymaker

jueves 8 de mayo de 2014 19:04 GYT

(Adds comments from second cenbank board member)

By Carlos Vargas and Nelson Bocanegra

MEDELLIN, Colombia May 8 (Reuters) - Colombian central bank board member Adolfo Meisel said on Thursday he expects the bank to continue an expansionist monetary policy for the time being even though it lifted rates last month for the first time in more than two years.

The Andean nation's economy is enjoying a period in which growth and consumption are picking up without inflation concerns, though a recent influx of foreign investment has caused the local currency to firm sharply.

The central bank raised the benchmark interest rate a quarter point to 3.5 percent on April 25 as policymakers sought to get ahead of any future inflationary pressure as the economy gathers pace.

The central bank could also extend the dollar purchase program it launched in April beyond its scheduled expiration at the end of June, Meisel said, by which time it is scheduled to have bought up to $1 billion.

"We have historically high reserve levels, but there are countries that have higher reserves than ours. In other words we can't rule out that we will increase dollar purchases," he said when asked if the purchases would continue beyond June.

Meisel was attending a bankers' forum in Medellin, Colombia's second-biggest city.

Colombia is the world's No. 4 coal exporter and heavy investment in its oil sector pushed up output to 1 million barrels per day in 2013. It is also the world's biggest producer of washed arabica coffee, a premium kind.   Continuación...