BOGOTA, March 16 (Reuters) - Ecuador’s economy expanded around 3.8 percent in 2014, below the government’s estimate, and growth expectations for this year will be revised down due to the fall in global crude prices, the economy minister said on Monday.
The government had predicted gross domestic product (GDP) growth of between 4.5 and 5.1 percent for last year and 4.1 percent for 2015.
“For last year we are talking about a growth above 3.6 percent, it could be around 3.8 percent,” economy minister Patricio Rivera told journalists.
The dollarized economy of OPEC’s smallest member has been battered by the fall in global crude prices. The government has responded by making budget cuts, reducing public sector salaries and curbing imports.
“The final quarter of last year was complicated and we are readjusting economic figures,” Rivera said.
“We will have respectable economic growth (in 2015). It will be very satisfactory given this situation,” he said, adding that a new lowered 2015 growth estimate will be announced in the coming weeks and that inflation expectations will also change.
Analysts have predicted a deceleration in the Andean country’s economy, due to the oil price fall and government economic policy.
The socialist government of President Rafael Correa, which predicts an oil price of $79.7 per barrel in 2015, has already reduced this year’s budget by $1.4 billion.
A new government bond issue is expected shortly, possibly this week, market sources say. That option is being examined, Rivera said. (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; editing by Andrew Hay)