Venezuela gov't says economy up 5.4 percent

AP News
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Posted: Aug 17, 2012 10:59 PM
Venezuela gov't says economy up 5.4 percent

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's economy grew in the second quarter to a level 5.4 percent ahead of the same period last year, the government said Friday.

A report released by Venezuela's Central Bank said increases in both the public and private sectors contributed to the gain, continuing economic growth for a seventh straight quarter following a nearly two-year recession.

Increased public spending coupled with high prices for oil exports also helped the growth in Venezuela's gross domestic product, the report said.

It said the construction sector expanded 17.6 percent in the April-June quarter, driven by the government's efforts to build millions of apartments for mostly homeless and poor Venezuelans.

The banking sector benefited from increased monetary liquidity, growing 34.4 percent, and commerce increased 9.8 percent, the report said.

Industrial production, which has traditionally helped boost economic activity, dropped 9.4 percent during the second quarter. The mining sector also showed a decrease, falling 4.5 percent in part because of problems at state-run mining companies, the report said.

President Hugo Chavez urged businessmen, many of whom have been strongly critical of his socialist-orientated policies, to cooperate with the government to ensure the upward trend continues.

"We have to work hard to continue elevating the national economy," Chavez said during a nationally televised address.

But Chavez stressed that privately owned businesses are welcome to team up with the government only "when they respect the law and work with honesty." He has ordered the expropriation of dozens of businesses, often accusing them of illegal practices or failing to comply with government-imposed price controls.

Venezuela's economy expanded 4.2 percent during 2011. Officials have expressed optimism the economy will grow 5 percent this year.