2019 is an electoral year, and it comes with uncertainty for new investments in the hydrocarbons sectors, warn the Bolivian Hydrocarbons and Energy Chamber (CBHE). The organisation said that gas production has reduced since 2014 and there is an urgency to broaden the exploratory frontier, but the political environment will have an impact in 2019.
The firing of two technical experts from the Electoral Supreme Court (TSE) in Bolivia has caused clashes among the electoral judges. TSE’s Vice-president, Antonio Costas, denounced that the firing of the two technicians was decided without consulting him, despite him being the head of the informatics department.
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UN demanded a preservation to the vote in Bolivia and asked the celebration of free and transparent elections. Without mention, the judgment of the Electoral court that allows President Evo Morales to seek a fourth consecutive term, the UN representant in Bolivia asked for the respect of democratic values in Bolivia. The UN’s pronouncement takes place after 20 presidents of 12 Spanish American nations asked the Organisation of American States (OAS) to adopt measures to condemn and reject the actions that allow Morales to seek a fourth consecutive term. Meanwhile, the Bolivian president affirmed that democracy in Bolivia is stronger than ever.
The political uncertainty in Bolivia is impacting investments, warned an important think tank in Bolivia. According to the Center of Studies for Labor and Agrarian Development (CEDLA), the current pre-electoral uncertainty has already put a brake to economic initiatives in the private sector and it is expected that the trend will continue in 2019, due to the politicised environment in the country.
Eight of the nine main cities of Bolivia wake up today with protests and street-blockings because of the controversial decision of the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) to allow president Evo Morales and vice-president Alvaro Garcia Linera to seek a fourth term.
President Evo Morales stated that the Bolivian economy does not depend on gas exports. He added that the engine of the economy is the internal demand. Morales attended the presentation of the book “12 years of economic stability in Bolivia”, edited by the Economic ministry. Although the president is optimists, economic experts warned that Bolivia still depends on hydrocarbons, the economy needs to diversify, and the fiscal deficit needs to be tackled. Economists José Gabriel Espinoza and Germán Molina said that the fiscal deficit in 2018 would be around 8% or more due to the high level of state indebtedness.
The Bolivian political opposition is convinced that the delay in the presentation of the national budget reflects the financial difficulties of the Morales administration. According to Unidad Nacional (UN) senator, Oscar Ortiz, the delay not only goes against constitutional provisions but it reflects the difficulties of the government after Argentina announced its intention to reduce the volume of gas shipments from Bolivia.
During the first quarter of 2018, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Bolivia grew by 71%, according to the Bolivia Institute of International Trade (IBCE). FDI reached $US257 million during the first three months of 2018, pushed by the hydrocarbons sector ($US109.3 million) and the manufacturing industry ($US92.8 million)
Bolivia is among the fastest growing economies in Latin America, according to various international organisations. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) increased Bolivia’s growth projections from 4 to 4.3% and the World Bank from 3.9 to 4.5%. These organisations place Bolivia in first or second place in regional growth. However, international experts such as CAF president Enrique Garcia, the country needs significant structural adjustments to diversify the economy that is highly dependent on hydrocarbons and minerals.