“We have never been on autopilot,” he said, according to business daily Gestion. “Autopilot would have been if we had the favorable winds there were in the previous five-year period, when Latin American growth was above 6% on average and we hadn’t started the National Plan for Production Diversification, because there was an autopilot.”
Humala was responding to criticism levied at his administration by economist Luis Carranza, a former Finance minister during the administration of Humala’s predecessor, Alan Garcia.
Peru’s economy posted robust growth during Garcia’s second term in office, from 2006 to 2011, driven by strong global demand for the country’s minerals.
A decline in demand for commodities from China, however, sent the price of raw materials like copper and oil tumbling over the past year, hurting the exports of resource-rich nations like Peru.
Last year, Peru’s economy grew just 2.4% compared to 5.8% in 2013. Government economists have said that the economy would likely rebound this year to about 4% growth, but business leaders say privately that this is highly unlikely.
On Wednesday, government statistics agency INEI said Peru’s economy expanded by just 0.94% in February, as construction sector activity contracted by its biggest rate since 2011. The economy grew by 1.7% in January.
Economists like Carranza blame Humala’s government for much of the slowdown, saying that the administration hasn’t done enough to promote investments in the face of extensive red-tape and social conflicts.