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Economy belting along but off low base - Cullen

"The economy is belting along with encouraging signs of a pick-up in agricultural production, manufacturing and business investment," Finance Minister Michael Cullen said today.

He was commenting on the GDP figures for December showing growth of 2.2 percent over the quarter. The rate for the 1999 calendar year was 3.5 percent.

"There is a need for careful evaluation. Some of the growth reflects a bounce-back from poor performance in 1998 and the first half of 1999. We also need to keep an eye on our propensity to over-consume imports," Dr Cullen said.

"The challenge for the Government is still to support value-added export growth as the key economic driver.

"The quarterly figure was twice the consensus forecast average, and was well ahead of the 1 percent forecast in the Reserve Bank's March Monetary Policy Statement.

"Obviously that may carry implications for interest rates. That is a decision for the Governor of the Reserve Bank, not for the Government."

ends

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