BOGOTA, Sept 4 Colombian President Juan Manuel
Santos expressed hope on Wednesday that the central bank would
cut the benchmark interest rate at the next board meeting as
benign inflation provides room to help economic growth.
Santos, a former finance minister, said in an address in the
coastal city of Santa Marta that he hoped low inflation would
encourage the bank to cut borrowing costs from the current level
of 3.25 percent.
The central bank last week held the rate steady for a fifth
straight month but hinted that the economy may require another
Inflation is expected to end the year below 3 percent, under
the mid-point range of the bank's target range of 2 percent to 4
percent. Inflation numbers are due to be disclosed on Thursday.
Central bank chief Jose Dario Uribe has said there is a risk
that economic growth could end this year below 4 percent, the
level the board previously said was likely.
Weak industrial output and sluggish exports have crimped
expansion in the economy while a series of labor disputes in the
coal and farm sector threaten to slow GDP further.
Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas already has lowered the
government's official economic growth target for 2013 to 4.5
percent from 4.8 percent and suggested another downward revision
could be possible.