Petro Calls on Colombian Banks to Boost Growth With Cheap Credit

(Bloomberg) -- Colombian President Gustavo Petro called on a room of the nation’s top bankers to help reactivate the nation’s economy by doling out low-interest loans.

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Speaking at the nation’s biggest banking conference in Cartagena on Friday, Petro said the economy was “cornered” by “a perfect storm” of high interest rates, reduced tax revenue and public spending cuts.

“By assigning resources you can help change this nation’s economic model,” Petro said. “You can do it freely or the state can accompany you with forced investments, which we are evaluating.”

Petro’s message came at the end of a three-day conference that gathered the heads of the nation’s biggest banks, as well as central bank officials and cabinet ministers.

Colombia’s administration is weighing a package of bills to boost economic growth and force the financial sector to provide cheap financing to housing, agriculture and tourism.

Earlier on Friday, Finance Minister Ricardo Bonilla said the government would reduce public spending by about 20 trillion pesos ($5 billion) this year after overestimating tax revenue.

“If we cut spending and growth is stagnant, what can we do?,” Petro said. “The financial sector can be part of the solution.”

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