Bolivia - Future trends

Since the mid-1980s, Bolivia has had political and economic stability, with fiscal prudence beyond most South American countries. Annual economic growth during the 1990s averaged about 4 percent and is expected to continue. Still, from 1999 to 2000 the economy slowed for various reasons, including a decline in international prices for some of Bolivia's exports. International financial organizations also believe that exports will grow to nearly US$1.5 billion in the next few years, which would be a 20 percent increase. This prediction is based on expected greater exports of natural gas to Brazil and increased cultivation of soybeans.

Bolivia is strongly committed to reducing the high poverty level, which requires more funding for basic education, especially in the rural areas. The goal is to reduce poverty by 40 percent by 2015. Secondary and university educations must be more attuned to modern technologies. The unmeasured migration of skilled professionals to industrial countries, such as the United States, Canada, and EU members, needs to be reduced by providing more opportunities and better salaries. For the general election in 2002, few anticipate any meaningful disturbances and most predict a smooth transition. The energetic freedom of the media is expected to continue. Opposition from labor and certain business sections to the fiscal reforms necessary for HIPC debt relief as well as other structural changes will continue. The restlessness of the illegal coca leaf growers and their opposition to the destruction of their crop and to crop substitution is not expected to end and will likely produce limited, sporadic violence. The same can be said of the indigenous groups, especially in the highlands, in their demands for more cultural rights and awareness. The significant radical changes of the 1952 revolution as well as the more conservative economic reforms since the 1980s all have borne fruit. Currently, Bolivia is far more peaceful and stable at the present than the 2 other Andean nations, Peru and Ecuador, which also have a considerable indigenous population.

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