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Velasco Says Chile Better Prepared Than Many Nations for Crisis

By Nathan Gill
     Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Chile's Finance Minister Andres Velasco comments on the central bank's decision to cut 2009 economic forecasts Nov. 14. Velasco spoke to reporters in Santiago today.

On the central bank's revised 2009 economic estimates:
     ``We know the numbers released by the central bank last week and these are numbers that show growth. At a time when many countries are talking about how much their economies' will contract, in Chile we are discussing how much our economy will grow. When the majority of the world's economies are talking about how much they will cut their budgets, we are talking about how much ours will expand. This shows that we have an economy that has the tools to face a crisis situation.''

On Chile's budget:
     ``This is a budget that will allow us to stabilize economic activity as we face an international situation that continues to be very difficult. That is why we need a counter-cyclical budget that allows us to take on issues like health, education and housing. We are going to support the economy by means of public investment and job creation.''

On the probability that the 2009 budget will be approved by congress:
     ``What we have here today is a signal of agreement, consensus and unity.''

On the global financial slowdown:
     ``We have adjustment mechanisms in Chile that allow us to face this challenge. For example, we have a floating peso. Obviously the value of the dollar today is not what it was two or three months ago, this helps exports. Second, we have a counter-cyclical budget where the fiscal expenses grow more than production and where public investment increases more than total expenses, 8.8 percent. This means job demand, employment, economic activity for small- and medium-sized businesses and state contractors.''

On the public workers strike:
     ``The government is able to make an additional offer and we are also able to continue working and that's how we hope it will be.''

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