Peru's Kuczynski sets ambitious poverty-reduction target

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru's centrist President-elect Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said on Sunday that he would strive to cut the Andean country's poverty rate by more than half to leave it at no more than 10 percent at the end of his five-year term. Outgoing President Ollanta Humala had set out to lower the rate to 15 percent before a drop in prices for Peru's key mineral exports hit economic growth. The poverty rate inched down 1 percentage point to 21.8 percent last year. "I want the poverty rate to be no more than 10 percent" by the end of my term, Kuczynski said in an interview with broadcaster RPP, noting that his target is lower than the current poverty level in the United States. At the start of the century, a majority of Peruvians were living in poverty, according to statistics agency Inei. But weaker growth at the end of a decade-long mining boom has slowed the once-swift gains in poverty reduction. Kuczynski, a septuagenarian former investment banker and World Bank economist, has proposed new infrastructure projects and lower taxes to boost Peru's annual economic growth rate back to at least 5 percent, from 3.3 percent last year. Kuczynski said the government must also do more to help new members of Peru's middle class, many of whom work in the informal economy. "The people who entered the middle class are hanging on by their fingernails, any economic tremor could push them out," Kuczynski said. (Reporting By Mitra Taj)