Ar­gen­tine fin min­is­ter sacked amid re­ces­sion

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Ar­gen­tine Pres­i­dent Mauri­cio Macri sacked his fi­nance min­is­ter Al­fonso Prat-Gay yes­ter­day, shak­ing up his eco­nomic team amid a stub­born re­ces­sion that has made his cen­ter-right re­forms deeply un­pop­u­lar.

“The pres­i­dent asked him to re­sign,” chief of staff Mar­cos Pena told a press con­fer­ence. “It’s a mat­ter of pol­icy dif­fer­ences.” Prat-Gay’s ministry will be split in two, Pena said.

Ni­co­las Du­jovne, a re­spected econ­o­mist, will take over as fi­nance min­is­ter.Luis Ca­puto, who pre­vi­ously served Prat-Gay as bud­get sec­re­tary, will take over the newly cre­ated bud­get ministry.

Ca­puto was the gov­ern­ment’s en­voy for negotiations that ended Ar­gentina’s decade-old le­gal bat­tle with US hedge funds de­mand­ing full re­pay­ment on de­faulted Ar­gen­tine bonds. It is Macri’s first cab­i­net reshuf­fle since he swept to power just over a year ago, putting an em­phatic end to 12 years of left-wing rule.

Prat-Gay had been in­stru­men­tal in a flurry of mar­ket-ori­ented re­forms, in­clud­ing the end of for­eign ex­change con­trols-which trig­gered a sharp de­val­u­a­tion of the peso and sent an­nual in­fla­tion soar­ing above 40 per­cent. Other re­forms un­der his watch in­cluded the re­moval of sub­si­dies for pub­lic trans­porta­tion, elec­tric­ity and gas, which trig­gered an­gry protests.

Macri says his re­forms are nec­es­sary to re­vive Latin Amer­ica’s third-largest econ­omy. But as he starts his sec­ond year in of­fice, the promised growth has yet to ar­rive.

The Ar­gen­tine econ­omy is fore­cast to shrink by two per­cent this year. Macri’s gov­ern­ment is bank­ing on growth of 3.5 per­cent in 2017, with in­fla­tion fall­ing to 17 per­cent. —AFP

BUENOS AIRES: This file photo taken on April 19, 2016 shows Fi­nance Min­is­ter Al­fonso Prat-Gay af­ter giv­ing a press con­fer­ence at Casa Rosada Gov­ern­ment Palace in Buenos Aires. — AFP

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