(Recasts first sentence, adds quote from minister, context)
By Felipe Iturrieta
SANTIAGO, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Falling oil prices are leading Colombia to trim its 4.8 percent forecast for 2015 growth and may also eat into public spending, the country’s finance minister told Reuters on Saturday.
The 40 percent slump in crude prices since June has dampened the economic outlook for Colombia, Latin America’s fourth biggest oil producer and one of the region’s most robust economies.
“We will surely have to reduce the 4.8 percent we have right now a bit, because clearly the price scenario for oil is lower,” Mauricio Cardenas said in an interview on the sidelines of a regional IMF meeting in Santiago.
Oil is the biggest source of hard currency for Colombia.
Cardenas said the impacts of lower crude prices will depend on how long the slump lasts.
“If it’s permanent, we’ll have to deal with it and adapt in some way, whether by cutting spending or generating more revenues,” he said.
The government has estimated a 4.7 percent expansion this year and will release its revised view for 2015 following the publication of economic data on Dec. 23, Cardenas said.
Analysts expect Colombia’s fiscal and current account deficits to widen next year as lower oil earnings push the country to issue more debt internationally.
Reporting By Felipe Iturrieta; writing by Mitra Taj; editing by Stephen Powell