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Rousseff Calls for Expanded Business

W460

President Dilma Rousseff urged businesses Sunday to expand their investments as Brazil cuts energy costs, in a bid to curb poverty and improve flagging industrial competitiveness.

"Our recipe for a stronger Brazil is to invest in overcoming poverty, guaranteeing home ownership, expanding employment, increasing education opportunities and improving our infrastructure and the competitiveness of our companies," Rousseff said in a Christmas broadcast to the nation.

Early this month, the government said electricity rates would be slashed 16.7 percent in 2013, in line with a long-standing demand by domestic industrialists who complain that Brazil's energy costs are among the highest in the world.

"The cut in electricity rates is fundamental to enable Brazilian industries to produce at lower costs, conquer markets and continue to generate employment," said Rousseff.

Urging entrepreneurs to invest in the country, she said her government was committed to building new partnerships between the public and private sectors

She also pointed to a series of government steps to spur industrial growth.

Early this month, the government said electricity rates would be slashed 16.7 percent in 2013, in line with a long-standing demand by domestic industrialists who complain that Brazil`s energy costs are among the highest in the world.

Rousseff also pointed to a series of government steps to improve flagging industrial competitiveness.

Brasilia has announced huge investments in airport, highway, port and rail projects in partnership with the private sector to modernize the country's creaking infrastructure and jumpstart a sluggish economy expected to grow a mere one percent this year.

It has also eased social charges in various sectors and reduced taxes on cars and home appliances.

The president also noted that her administration managed to keep inflation under control and to create conditions to bring interest rates to a historic low.

"We have expanded credit to stimulate private investment and have cut taxes and interest rates," she said.

Last October, the central bank slashed its interest rate for the 10th time since August last year, to a record low of 7.25 percent.

When the cut strategy began, the interest rate stood at a historic high of 12.5 percent and inflation, at 7.2 percent.

Thursday, the bank cut its GDP growth forecast for 2012 from 1.6 percent to one percent, confirming a marked slowdown in Latin America's biggest economy.

The bank also revised its inflation estimate for 2012 to 5.7 percent, up from 5.2 percent.

The new projection is well above the official target of 4.5 percent.

For next year, the bank expect consumer prices to rise 4.8 percent.

"I am sure that 2013 will be an even better year for all Brazilians," said Rousseff.

"Like all Brazilians, I am an optimist. I am fully aware off the challenges our country faces as a result of the international (economy)," she said. "I also know that moments of crisis can be turned into great opportunities."

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