(Bloomberg) -- President-elect Gabriel Boric warned that Chile’s consumer spending boom was unsustainable and that government finances were under strain, providing a reality check in one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
Growth should be driven by investments, while protecting the environment, Boric said on Thursday at a business event in Santiago. Boosting government revenues through a tax reform while simultaneously providing investors with legal guarantees will help make economic expansion more lasting and solve social ills, he said.
“Our current status quo slows economic development and deepens social discontent,” Boric said. “If we don’t advance with material solutions, then we won’t solve the causes of the social discontent.”
Chile’s economy grew about 12% last year, a record for the South American nation, according to the central bank, which expects growth to slow to 2% this year. Policy makers will probably raise the key interest rate again this month, extending hikes totaling 350 basis points since July as annual inflation soars above target.
Boric, a 35-year-old former student leader, will assume the presidency in March after pledging greater equality in an nation that’s both one of Latin America’s most prosperous and a global financial market favorite. Investors are waiting for him to announce his cabinet in about a week.
Read more: New President at 35 Thrusts Chile Back Into Exceptionalism Role
Boosting productivity and recovering formal jobs, especially for women and youth, represent top priorities, Boric said Thursday. The incoming administration’s changes will be gradual and will be implemented with fiscal responsibility, he said, pledging to reduce the structural deficit from 2023 onwards.
The new government knows that partnerships with the private sector will be key to drive investments, according to the in-coming head of state. Boric said his team will always be open to dialogue with different segments of society.
His speech comes a day after the current administration awarded controversial lithium contracts. The timing drew criticism from both opposition groups and Boric, who told reporters on Wednesday that the decision resembles “those laws that tie you up at the last minute when a government is about to end.”
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