IMF and World Bank cooperating unconditionally with Bolivia
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are cooperating unconditionally with Bolivia's government after months of frosty relations, said President Evo Morales during his visit to Zurich, Switzerland.
Morales whose government nationalised Bolivia's energy industry last year, told reporters that he had made it clear to the multilateral financial institutions that they had to back his policies. "I have said that if they want to collaborate they must support the projects and the programs of the Bolivian government," said Morales. ?Our relations (with the IMF and World Bank) were frozen but at the end of last year they presented themselves,? said Morales adding that ?they are cooperating unconditionally?. Morales said past Bolivian governments had followed advice from the IMF to the letter, adding that they had sometimes paid a high price as a result. ?For example in 2003 the World Bank and the IMF said there should either be a sharp tax hike or an increase in gasoline prices in order to deal with Bolivia?s fiscal deficit,? he said. ?The government accepted the tax hike and within two days the Bolivian armed forces were involved in confrontations in which 13 people died. Who brought about these deaths? The Fund and the W B?, said Morales. ?We will not accept any impositions?. Morales was in Zurich to meet FIFA president Sepp Blatter whom he persuaded to reconsider a ban on high altitude soccer matches which threatened to outlaw world cup qualifying matches in Bolivia?s capital of La Paz. Earlier in a speech to a gathering of Bolivian immigrants living in Switzerland, Morales said the nationalisation of the oil and gas industry and a more austere style of government had helped Bolvia deliver its first fiscal surplus in decades. The country?s currency reserves had risen to 3.7 billion US dollars from 1.4 billion US dollars in 18 months, while the economy was expanding. ?If we reach a 6% growth rate this year we will be among the five fastest-growing countries in Latin America,? he said. Bolivia, South America?s poorest country, has the region?s second-largest natural gas reserves after Venezuela but despite strong growth, which has been boosted by high oil and gas prices, investment was lagging. ?We have economic growth, an increase in international reserves and macroeconomic stability but investment is still not good enough? admitted Morales.