News Analysis: New Bolivian government's main challenge lies in reviving economy, say experts

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LA PAZ, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- The main challenge for the new Bolivian government headed by Luis Arce Catacora from the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party lies in reviving the country's economy, economists and political experts have said.

On Friday, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal declared Luis Arce as president-elect of Bolivia and David Choquehuanca as vice president-elect, with 55.1 percent of the votes.

The MAS also obtained absolute majorities in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, although it did not achieve the two-thirds majority required to carry out constitutional reforms.

Marcelo Arequipa, a political analyst and professor at the Catholic University of La Paz, told Xinhua that after securing the overwhelming victory in the general elections, a crucial next step the MAS needs to take is to get out of the current political crisis.

"Despite the fact that the MAS achieved absolute majorities in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, it is essential to go through a process of consent," said Arequipa, adding that this is key to reactivating the country economically.

Recognized as the architect of economic policies of the government of former President Evo Morales, Arce will face challenges very different from those he had in the past.

Arce acted as minister of economy and finance for most of the nearly 14 years of ruling by Morales, during which the country benefited from the "commodities boom," and the living conditions of Bolivians substantially improved.

In this period, the country's gross domestic product (GDP) skyrocketed from 9.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2005 to more than 40 billion dollars in 2019, and poverty rate fell to 37 percent from 60 percent, according to official data.

Arce said in a televised interview Tuesday that the interim government has destroyed the economy, and that one of his first tasks will be to "reconstruct" the country's economic model.

Jorge Akamine, president of the National College of Economists of Bolivia, told Xinhua that political and social stability is required to boost economic reactivation.

"These elections in Bolivia have taken a great step towards strengthening democracy and political stability," he said. "We must have the participation of the entire population, with both political and economic actors, to support the measures that can be harsh in many cases."

Akamine proposed, for example, seeking external financing to inject resources into the economy so as to help struggling companies through soft loans and make adjustments to austerity.

Juan Carlos Nunez, an economist and director of the Jubilee Foundation, told Xinhua that the new Bolivian government will face many challenges, but the biggest one will be steering the economy out of recession.

For Nunez, the economic model of the MAS has to be adjusted, and he thinks it is imprudent to base the economy solely on the exploitation of raw materials.

He said it is important to boost public investment aimed at diversifying the national economy, so that the country can reactivate itself and see long-term growth. Enditem

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