* Nominal GDP seen hitting record $28.70 billion in 2013
* Inflation expected to cool slightly from 2012
LA PAZ, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Bolivia’s economy is seen growing 5.5 percent next year compared with at least 5.2 percent in 2012, the government said on Wednesday upon sending its 2013 budget bill to Congress.
The South American country has enjoyed steady economic growth since leftist President Evo Morales took power in 2006. It tapped global credit markets for the first time in nearly a century last month, at a relatively low cost.
Economy Minister Luis Arce made the forecast in a statement, adding that the figure was “above Latin America’s growth rate and, of course, the global pace.”
Gross domestic product is seen reaching a record of $28.70 billion in 2013, in nominal terms. Even so, the country continues to rank among the poorest in South America.
“Bolivia isn’t affected by the (global) crisis thanks to the government’s economic model in place since January 2006, which has focused on fomenting growth through the development of the domestic market,” Arce said, mentioning public spending on infrastructure and social programs.
The budget bill shows public investment rising 10 percent to $3.80 billion next year while overall spending expands 18 percent to $25.08 billion, financed by increased tax receipts and revenue from the key natural gas and mining sectors.
Bolivian consumer inflation is seen easing a bit next year, rising to 4.5 percent versus the maximum of 4.8 percent foreseen for 2012. Inflation was running at 3.49 percent in the first 10 months of the year.
The country is expected to register its seventh-straight annual fiscal surplus in 2012.
The budget bill did not provide details on the government’s debt plans or on the level of foreign reserves foreseen next year. The Economy Ministry expects net reserves to reach $14 billion in the coming weeks.