Chile to revise 2010 budget for quake rebuilding
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By Antonio de la Jara
SANTIAGO, March 16 (Reuters) – The Chilean government plansto announce changes soon to the 2010 budget in order to helpfinance reconstruction after February’s devastating earthquake,Finance Minister Felipe Larrain said on Tuesday.
Larrain also did not rule out revising the tax system.
The 2010 budget was set by the previous, center-leftgovernment of President Michelle Bachelet. The 8.8-magnitudequake struck Feb. 27 during her final days in office andshortly before the conservative Sebastian Pinera was sworn inas president on Thursday.
“We are looking at the budget … and very soon we aregoing to announce what the budgetary adjustments will be. Weare also looking at different financing options and onealternative that has not been ruled out is the subject oftaxes,” Larrain told reporters after meeting with the country’sleading business groups, seeking their help forreconstruction.
The quake caused an estimated $30 billion in damage toChile’s infrastructure, homes and industry, and ensuingtsunamis killed several hundred people.
Pinera said last week his government will create a specialrebuilding fund to finance reconstruction, using loans, savingsand budgetary austerity.
Future income from exports of copper — Chile is thebiggest world producer of the metal — will help to financereconstruction, Pinera said, as will reworking the 2010 budgetto trim spending in other areas.
Chile will also have to raise money through debt issues anddip into savings from past copper income that it saved ininvestments abroad in a sovereign wealth fund.
Chile, a model of economic stability in Latin America, canraise money relatively cheaply on international markets becauseit has an investment grade rating and is considered low-risk. (Reporting by Antonio de la Jara; Editing by Daniel Trotta andPadraic Cassidy)
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