Mexico unveils plan to stave off crunch

Calderon trying to soften the blow by investing in infrastructure, provide more credit to small businesses.

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MEXICO CITY (CNN) -- Mexican President Felipe Calderon laid out a plan Wednesday to help his country avoid or mitigate the effects of the economic uncertainty besetting other nations.

"The world is in a grave crisis, and this affects us," he said in a nationally televised address.

He predicted that the crisis would result in fewer Mexican exports, fewer tourists, fewer international companies investing in Mexico and fewer Mexican migrants sending money home from the United States.

"This will, lamentably, affect economic growth and jobs," he predicted.

Because of the U.S. credit freeze, some Mexican companies will not get the money they need to grow, he said.

Slower growth globally will mean about 28 billion pesos ($2.3 billion) less in revenue for the oil-exporting nation's government, he said.

But Mexico is well positioned to mitigate any damage, with the lowest inflation rate in Latin America, Calderon said, adding that his country's finances and banking system are in order.

He noted that Mexico has more than $90 billion in foreign reserves and the Central Bank is prepared to inject more dollars into the system if necessary to ensure stability of the Mexican peso.

In addition, he announced measures to combat the crisis:

-- Stimulate internal growth by investing in more infrastructure and public works;

-- Provide more credit to small- and medium-sized businesses to stimulate job growth;

-- Build a refinery to ease Mexican dependence on imported fuel;

-- Revise the 2009 budget and spending plan to reflect lowered growth and lowered oil prices;

-- Simplify duties and fees charged to foreign companies wishing to invest in Mexico.

Calderon said he was sending a plan to Congress calling for more funding for clinics and hospitals, sports stadiums and indigent housing and the tourism industry.

"I'm sure that, with the participation of everyone, our country will end up ahead," he said.

-- CNN's Harris Whitbeck contributed to this story. To top of page

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