Chile to double efforts in economic recovery, post-quake reconstruction

08:24, August 20, 2010      

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Chilean President Sebastian Pinera who took office just days after the Feb. 27 devastating earthquake has been committed to reviving the country's economic dynamism and reconstructing the disaster-stricken areas.

The government's priority is to achieve and maintain the economic growth rate of around 6 percent on average during his term of four years, he told a news conference on Wednesday.

The second goal is to make the economy regain its potential growth capacity. "This dynamic is being achieved, but obviously, much more to go," he said.

Pinera also outlined his government's ambition to improve the quality of education and health care, as well as to combat poverty in the country.

The noblest goal is to ensure that by the end of this decade Chile will defeat under-development and eradicate poverty, he said.

"We had a drop in poverty that came falling from 20 years ago, but the latest survey CASEN, which measured the subject, said that between 2006-2009, (the poverty percentage) increased from 13 to 15 percent," he said.

As for the reconstruction efforts after the major earthquake, the president recalled that the total damage caused by the earthquake is estimated at 30 billion U.S. dollars.

To illustrate the extent of damage, he said that the consequences of Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005 accounted for 1 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), while the Chilean earthquake was 17 percent.

One in three schools were destroyed by the natural disaster, so one in three students had nowhere to take classes, the president said.

He noted that in 45 days a total of 70,000 houses were built up as an temporary measure to bring all the children to back to school.

The government also managed to restore the function of the damaged health care system and all the airports and sea ports quickly, and supported the recovery of the productive private sectors.

Pinera, whose term ends in 2014, said he was quite satisfied with the reconstruction work being carried out in all six affected regions, and his country is preparing to celebrate the bicentennial of independence on this Sept. 18.



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