Guatemala expects to borrow 4.5 billion quetzals ($561 million) from financial markets this year to help bolster public spending amid a sluggish economic recovery, according to a top government official. The government plans to submit next week a proposal in Congress to issue debt later this year. “We expect it to be approved,” Finance Minister Alberto Fuentes said during the Inter-American Development Bank’s annual meeting. “What isn’t yet decided is whether they’ll be placed in the country or abroad,” he added. Fuentes said the issuance will include a combination of long-term and short-term maturities, adding that the country placed 15-year bonds last year and 30-year bonds in 2004. “We have the option of issuing inside or outside [the country], and we do believe there’s appetite in Guatemala,” he said. Guatemala’s economy was one of the few in Latin America to grow last year, Fuentes noted: GDP expanded 0.6 percent from 2008 thanks to higher banana and sugar exports, as well as a modest economic stimulus spending program. (Dow Jones)

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