| DAVOS, Switzerland
DAVOS, Switzerland Jan 24 Colombian Finance
Minister Mauricio Cardenas said on Friday he is confident a
commitment to fiscal responsibility and low inflation will mean
markets continue to treat the country differently from other
"I am very confident that what Colombia has is quite solid
because it is based on fundamentals that are not going to
change, for example fiscal responsibility is written into the
constitution, it is part of the fiscal rule. Low inflation is
part of the mandate of the independent central bank," he said.
Cardenas said he expects Colombia to have grown by between
4.3 and 4.5 percent in 2013, although fourth quarter data has
not yet been released. Colombia's economy grew by a
faster-than-expected 5.1 percent in the third quarter, compared
with the same period of 2012.
GDP growth will be close to its potential rate of growth of
4.7 percent in 2014, Cardenas told Reuters on the fringes of the
World Economic Forum in Davos, adding that a road infrastructure
programme would add a percentage point of growth.
"This year we are going to grow very closely to potential.
Forecast is 4.7 and last year is between 4.3 and 4.5 percent. We
haven't yet seen data for the fourth quarter," Cardenas said.
And strong demand for a bond issued by Colombia earlier in
the week was evidence of investors making clear choices between
emerging market countries.
"Markets are telling us that they are differentiating
between countries," Cardenas said, "our exchange rate has not
The Colombian peso rose by 0.2 percent to 1,994 per dollar
on Friday, after three consecutive days of losses.
Most emerging market currencies weakened for a second
consecutive day on Friday as foreign investors become more
averse to risk, scared by a looming forex crisis in Argentina
and concerned about less monetary stimulus globally.
Cardenas said Colombia had decided to double the size of the
recent bond issue to meet investor demand, and had sold the $2
billion 30-year bond earlier at a yield of 5.647 percent,
"It was a great transaction," he said, adding that this
meant that Colombia had completed all of its overseas borrowing
requirements for the year.
In addition to the road concessions programme, which
involves 40 different projects, Cardenas said Colombia was also
actively pursuing the sale of its 56.7 percent stake in the
country's third largest power company Isagen and he had
met with American and European power sector companies in Davos.
Cardenas said that when a sale was agreed, the buyer would
have to make an offer to Isagen's other shareholders at the same
price. Colombia has attached a base price of $2.5 billion to the
government's stake in the company, meaning it will not sell for
less, he added.