CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela's planning minister says the South American country's economy grew 5.6 percent during the first three months of 2012.
Jorge Giordani says the economy could grow by as much as 7 percent this year.
Giordani says this year's economic expansion was largely driven by 29.6 percent growth in construction as the government of President Hugo Chavez funneled billions of dollars into a nationwide initiative to build hundreds of thousands of apartments for the poor.
Venezuela's economy rebounded and grew about 4 percent in 2011.
Giordani said Thursday high public spending will help spur the growth of Venezuela's privately owned industries.