Wed Nov 13, 2002 11:27 pm


Reuters 12-XI-02

 

(New throughout)
By Jude Webber
LIMA, Peru, Nov 12 (Reuters) – Peru’s National Statistics
Institute published sector-by-sector production figures for
September on Tuesday that analysts said proved Latin America’s
No. 7 economy was growing faster than expected — for now.
The government agency, INEI, said in a report production in
the manufacturing sector — vital for much-needed jobs growth
— rose 7.43 percent in September compared with the same 2001
month, while output in the nation’s traditional mainstays of
fisheries and mining grew 18.31 and 2.8 percent respectively.
Agriculture output rose 3.69 percent, it said. The agency
gave no comparisons for the data.
INEI said last month that the gross domestic product data
it had been releasing monthly for the past 15 years were
faulty, and said the new-look sector-by-sector figures would be
the only indication of monthly economic performance until it
had corrected its methodology and rebased its index next year.
One of the main problems with the old data was how the
services sector was calculated, and INEI had planned to strip
that out and issue an aggregate figure for the primary and
secondary sectors — chiefly mining, fishing and industry —
that make up around half the economy.
But in a U-turn on Tuesday, INEI said it had changed its
mind on issuing monthly GDP data because it had been impossible
to work out an accurate new aggregate methodology in time, and
would still issue an old-style September GDP figure next week.
One economist at a large bank in Lima, who declined to be
named, said the sector-by-sector numbers signaled another month
of strong growth for Peru, which the government boasts is a
beacon amid the battered economies of Latin America.
“This (sector-by-sector data) would have given a September
GDP growth number of around 6 percent,” the economist said.
Asked if he agreed, INEI’s new chief Farid Matuk told
Reuters the 6 percent growth estimate was “totally sensible —
(perhaps) half a point up, half a point down.”
The Economy Ministry last week forecast September GDP
growth of 6.7 percent and 5.3 percent in October. The economist
said his own forecast for September was for 5 percent growth.

CAN PERU KEEP IT UP?
Guillermo Arbe, chief analyst at the private Apoyo
consultancy, said the figures were upbeat.
“We have indicators that show the economy, above all that
linked to internal demand, non-primary sectors, is growing …
more than we expected … It’s encouraging,” he said.
Peru is targeting 2002 growth of 3.7 percent after 0.2
percent last year. But the government admits the economy needs
to grow faster yet to translate growth into jobs — Peruvians’
No. 1 concern and one of the reasons why President Alejandro
Toledo’s popularity is down to around 20 percent in polls.
But asked whether the big growth rates would continue at
this clip, the bank economist said: “I think it’s over. We’ll
still show growth but it won’t be as high in the last quarter.
“A lot of the growth up until now has been because of a
statistical bounce. September 2001 was one of the worst months
there was,” he said. In September last year, the economy grew
2.7 percent.
The economist said the positive effects of tax measures
during the year, and of the giant Antamina copper and gold mine
which began operations last year and gave the economy a push,
were winding up.
“I think we should end the year with growth of 3.5 to 4
percent. But next year’s a bit more complicated,” the analyst
said. “There will have to be a lot of fiscal belt tightening.”

NEW-LOOK FIGURES NEXT YEAR
Matuk told Reuters the September GDP data would consist of
a single figure without a sector-by-sector breakdown, and would
be based on the same faulty methodology used for the past 15
years because there was no time to work out a new method.
From 2003, INEI will issue a new-style aggregate figure —
not the old GDP based on the faulty sums — while it works on
improving the math and rebasing the index in order to provide
more accurate, quarterly GDP numbers from mid-2003.
Another senior INEI official said the agency would release
the sector-wide data weekly from now on.
INEI gave the following data:

Sectors Sept 2002 Jan-Sept 2002
Agriculture and farming 3.69 5.26
Fisheries 18.31 -2.04
Mining 2.80 14.97
Manufacturing industry 7.43 3.09
– primary industry -1.90 -2.50
– non-primary industry 9.75 4.65
Electricity and water 5.06 5.45
Financial services 9.65 15.57
(Additional reporting by Missy Ryan)
((Lima newsroom, tel: +511 221 2130, fax +511 221 2133,
e-mail: lima.newsroom@reuters.com))

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