SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile’s Finance Ministry said on Tuesday that it has lowered economic growth estimates for 2019 to a range of 1.8% to 2.2%, from a prior 2.4% to 2.9% forecast following weeks of protests that have gripped the nation.
“Owing to the situation the nation is facing, the finance minister came clean on forecasts with congress and reduced the growth estimate,” the ministry said on Twitter.
On Monday, newly appointed finance minister Ignacio Briones had told reporters the economy will likely grow between 2.0% and 2.2% in 2019.
Unrest in Chile was sparked by an increase in the price of metro fares, but reflected much larger and long-simmering anger at the government’s failure to alter the country’s economic course despite growing inequality.
The riots, arson and protests over inequality have resulted in at least 23 dead and 7,000 arrested, prosecutors said. Briones said on Monday he estimated the protests had cost the country an estimated $3 billion of damage and lost earnings. The city’s metro suffered nearly $400 million in damages.
Chile is one of Latin America’s wealthiest nations, but also, among its most unequal. Frustrations over the high cost of living in Santiago have become a political flashpoint and have prompted calls for reforms on everything from the country’s tax and labor codes to its pension system.
Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Natalia Ramos; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama