Colombia 2016 GDP Growth Seen Slightly More Than 2015: Central Bank


Colombia's economy will probably grow slightly more in 2016 than the 3.6 percent predicted for this year, the central bank chief said on Monday.

"The technical team is projecting 2016 growth figures a bit above those for 2015," Jose Dario Uribe told reporters after his quarterly presentation in Bogota.

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A nearly 60 percent drop since June in prices for oil has hit government spending plans as revenue from taxes and royalties suffer.

The bank held its key lending rate for a fifth straight month last week, saying crude price declines were already being reflected in corporate investment reductions. [ID: nL1N0V91UU]

The seven-member board lowered its 2015 economic growth forecast from 4.3 percent previously. It also trimmed its forecast for 2014 growth to 4.8 percent from 5 percent.

The reduction in growth estimates may usher in cuts to the benchmark rate this year, analysts have said. Fourth quarter data will be released in March.

Economic growth will be above 4 percent in 2016, the majority of analysts estimated in a Reuters survey last week.

The current account deficit, where the value of imports exceeds that of exports, will be near 5 percent for 2014, Uribe added, wider than the 3.4 percent in 2013.

The current account deficit reached 4.6 percent of GDP in the January to September period, up from 3.3 percent at the same time a year earlier.

(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Bernard Orr)