BN Americas report:
Bolivia’s infrastructure authorities are working on an economic reactivation plan to deal with the pandemic.
In the plan, the ministry of public works, housing and services (MOPSV) assumes that the coronavirus will impact society and the economy for many more months, meaning companies will have to operate under eventual new restrictions.
None of the scenarios – short, medium and long-term – the ministry outlined, however, can be considered post-pandemic, because, infrastructure minister Ivan Árias Durán said, the disease “came to stay in Bolivia” and people “will just have to live with it.”
While details lack, the official said the program rests on two pillars: works to coordinate medical control and help prevent further spread, and economic reactivation of sectors that depend on the ministry.
The highway authority (ABC), for example, is working on a legal framework to attract foreign investors for the construction of roads.
Meanwhile, the department for housing works is drafting a financial relief package for municipalities affected by a drop in the collection of hydrocarbons taxes and municipal income.
Companies such as state telco Entel and airline BoA also have a role in the program, MOSPV said.
The minister said the plan will feed a broader central government program to revamp the economy and generate employment.
When ready and greenlighted by economic authorities, the plan will be submitted to congress for approval.
The crisis is expected to hit the country hard, particularly on the energy front.
Because of that, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved Bolivia’s request for emergency financial assistance of about US$327mn under the Rapid Financing Instrument to combat the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic will have a severe impact on Bolivia. The economic cost will be substantial, as the combination of lower global energy prices, domestic quarantines, and a sudden stop in capital inflows leads to sharp reductions in exports, production, and fiscal revenues. The IMF’s emergency assistance under the Rapid Financing Instrument will help to support urgently required medical spending and relief measures, while addressing the country’s balance of payments needs.”
The fund predicts Bolivia’s GDP will fall by 2.9% this year and the Latin America and Caribbean region’s by 4.6%.
As of April 26, Bolivia had 950 infections and 50 reported deaths from COVID-19.