By Helen Popper (Reuters) To the surprise of his detractors, Evo Morales — an ally of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez who shares his penchant for fiery leftist rhetoric — has proved a fiscal conservative. The country is expected to register its seventh-straight annual fiscal surplus in 2012.
Morales, 53, has nationalized areas of the economy from the vital natural gas industry to telecommunications companies and tin smelters, but he has also let the central bank’s foreign reserves swell to record levels and warded off the scourge of high inflation that battered Bolivia in the 1980s.
The economy is expected to grow more quickly than many of its wealthier neighbours this year and should maintain a healthy 5 percent expansion in 2013, according to the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates.
“Bolivia is no longer a country with a weak economy,” Economy Minister Luis Arce said last month after the nation sold its first global bonds in almost a century.