LIMA, April 24 President Ollanta Humala said on
Wednesday he wants to strike a balance between statist and
free-market economic policies, as business leaders recoil at his
government's plan to possibly buy a stake in Repsol's Peru
Humala, who spoke at the World Economic Forum on Latin
America, said a mix of the two models was necessary to maintain
a "good and healthy" economy that grows swiftly and lifts people
out of poverty, which afflicts a third of Peruvians.
Humala met unexpectedly on Monday night with Repsol
Chairman Antonio Brufau at a time when state-run Petroperu is
evaluating the purchase of a minority stake in the Spanish
company's refinery and chain of gas stations in Peru.
Repsol officials declined to comment on Tuesday.
Repsol's Pampilla plant has capacity of 102,000 barrels a
day and is one of Peru's two main refineries. Pampilla produces
about half of the refined products in Peru.
The government has said it is evaluating the purchase to
guarantee adequate fuel supplies in Peru, a net oil importer
whose economy has grown around 6 percent a year for the last
Peruvian business leaders have criticized the plan, saying
it would show Humala aims to give the state a more active role
in the economy. Government officials, including Prime Minister
Juan Jimenez, have said they have sought to allay those fears.
"From an experience in the 1970s in which the public sector
had a very active role in the economy, we went to the other
extreme and reduced the state to a bare minimum (in the 1990s),"
"Today, what we are building is a more balanced attitude,
learning from both experiences," he added.
Like many Latin American countries, Peru went through a
period of strong statism and then in the 1990s privatized public
companies, opened the economy to trade, and sought to drive down
inflation and fiscal deficits.
"To attain development, it is necessary to grow and learn
how to distribute that wealth," Humala said.
(Reporting by Teresa Cespedes and Marco Aquino; Editing by
Terry Wade and Steve Orlofsky)