* Consumer demand and export will foster growth this year
* Central bank sees full-year inflation at 4.4 pct
By Alexandra Valencia
QUITO, May 8 Ecuador's economic growth will slow
to above 4 percent this year, central bank Chief Diego Martinez
said on Wednesday, as weak overseas demand and trouble at the
nation's biggest oil refinery bite into the Andean country's
Economic growth will be bolstered by robust consumer demand
this year, Martinez told reporters in Quito. Expansion slowed to
5 percent in 2012, from 7.43 percent the previous year, as it
took a hit from weaker growth in the oil and construction
Growth is expected to slow again this year due to global
economic woes and the idling of Ecuador's largest refinery,
which will be partially shut down for several months for an
overhaul, the government has said.
"The good news is that in 2013 economic growth in Ecuador
will be more than 4 percent," Martinez said.
The central bank lowered the economic growth rate for 2011
to 7.43 percent, from 8 percent previously, Martinez said.
High oil revenues and increased tax collection have allowed
leftist President Rafael Correa to boost state spending on
infrastructure and welfare projects in recent years, which has
created jobs and bolstered the economy.
Healthy economic growth helped Correa win a sweeping
re-election victory in February, and he has vowed to continue
spending heavily on roads, hospitals and schools in a bid to
raise living standards in his next four years in office.
But the OPEC-member country is highly dependent on oil
revenues and the economy would suffer if crude prices were to
fall this year.
In a bid to diversify the economy, Correa, a U.S.-trained
economist, has vowed to attract mining investment and the
country is building hydroelectric dams and aspires to export
energy in the future.
Martinez also said that consumer prices in Ecuador will
likely increase 4.4 percent in 2013.
The inflation rate was 4.16 percent in 2012, less than the
5.41 percent recorded in 2011, but above the 3.33 percent seen