* Central bank has kept benchmark rate at 3 pct
* Colombia estimates economic growth of 3 pct in 2010
BOGOTA, July 2 Colombia's central bank should
maintain an expansionary monetary policy through 2010 to
support economic recovery in the Andean nation, one of the
bank's co-directors said on Friday.
Latin America's No. 4 oil producer expects growth of 3
percent this year after its economy registered a paltry 0.8
percent growth in 2009 due to the global financial crisis.
"The expansive monetary policy has been key for the
(economic) reactivation," Carlos Gustavo Cano, a director at
the central bank, told a conference on the state of the economy
near the border with Ecuador.
"Without the risk of inflation going forward, with the
output gap unclosed and given global uncertainty, the
indication would be to maintain this posture for at least the
rest of 2010 to facilitate the sustainability of the
reactivation process in 2011 and 2012."
The central bank lowered its benchmark interest rate by 700
basis points between November 2008 and April to spur growth,
and has maintained a 3 percent rate recently.
Colombia's economy grew 4.4 percent in the first quarter
compared with a year ago in a stronger-than-expected expansion,
driven by construction, mining, electricity, gas and water
supplies, the national statistics agency said. [ID:nN24135960]
The bank has said that inflation continues to be below
expectations. A Reuters poll of analysts forecast 0.09 percent
inflation in June versus 0.10 percent in May. [ID:nN01158457]
Finance Minister Oscar Ivan Zuluaga said in June the
economic recovery indicated fiscal stimulus measures should be
removed to allow more expansion for the private sector, the
engine of Colombia's growth. [ID:nN15262841]
Cano -- one of seven co-directors at the bank -- said that
high levels of consumer and business confidence, strong energy
demand and spending on public works suggested that the economy
was on track to recuperate.
(Reporting by Javier Mozzo; Writing by Jack Kimball; Editing
by Kenneth Barry)