As slowdown grips Peru, Garcia demands patriotism

LIMA, March 17 (Reuters) - Peruvian President Alan Garcia lashed out at bureaucrats on Tuesday, telling them to show their "patriotism" by working harder to implement an economic stimulus package as a slowdown hits the Andean country.

Garcia's comments came a day after Peru was stung by its weakest monthly economic data in nearly five years, which could hurt Garcia's approval rating, now at 34 percent.

Peru, which had been one of Latin America's fastest growing economies, grew just 3.14 percent in January from the same month a year earlier, well below the 9.8 percent rate of 2008, which was a 14-year high.

"We need more patriotic spirit to approve public works," Garcia said at a road opening ceremony in Tarapoto, a town in northern Peru.

"There are hundreds of public works that are stalled because Peru has bad bureaucrats who are scared of implementing them and putting the country first," he said.

The president also told his cabinet, provincial leaders, and mayors to act "urgently" to create jobs and build infrastructure projects.

Garcia has unveiled a stimulus package that includes about $3.1 billion in investments in its first phase, but critics have said its effectiveness may be undermined by a slow-moving bureaucracy and a reliance on provincial governments.

The government says the stimulus package will help keep economic growth at 5.0 percent this year, but the Lima Chamber of Commerce said expansion could be as little as 2.8 percent, and Morgan Stanley has cut its projection to 0.9 percent. (Reporting by Marco Aquino and Terry Wade)