Colombia: strong fundamentals and more to come.

Author:Bustos, Elida
Position:LT CFO: BOGOTA - Statistical data
 
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"Colombia is growing faster than the rest of the world, the developed countries and the Latin American average," said Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, Colombia's former finance minister, at the opening of the first Chief Financial Officers Forum organized by Latin Trade Group in Bogota on July 25%

Running through the numbers, Zuluaga presented a country with a solid economic policy that "was built with enormous effort," and a financial system with strong reserves and plenty of liquidity in treasury coffers. But he said this healthy performance comes in the context of a worrisome international environment, marked by almost five years of crisis in major developed countries.

"Europe is disturbing," he said, "and Spain is technically in default, though the European Union can't afford that luxury." In the United States, he noted, there is even talk of a possible dip back into recession. Given the present climate, the IMF had to review its world growth projections four rimes in one year to take economic volatility into account.

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With a complicated situation in Europe as well as in the United States, emerging economies will also see their growth rates adjusted downward over the next year- even in China, where an annual growth rate ofl0 percent is proving unsustainable, he said.

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Zuluaga also praised the Colombian government's "appropriate handling of the (public) debt," which includes the goal of lowering the debt level from the current 37 percent of GDP, to 22 percent of GDP within 10 years--"something neither the United States nor Europe can do."

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Following the economist's macroeconomic analysis, financial directors from several companies, both multinational and Colombian, offered presentations on financial management within their institutions.

Juan Fernando Vazquez Velazquez, CFO of the energy generating and marketing company Isagen, spoke about creating value, sector by sector, at his company. Isagen restructured its management system seven years ago in favor or a system of value creation, and has been seeking to motivate employees to implement this philosophy in their work.

From Visa, Luis Emilio Fortou, head of the multinational program for Latin America and the Caribbean, reviewed the tools that the credit card company offers to CFOs to help make their work more flexible and efficient in controlling travel and entertainment expenses...

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