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Argentine finance minister sacked amid recession

By AFP   |   26 December 2016   |   4:30 pm
(FILES) 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. Argentina's President Mauricio Macri asked Prat-Gay for his resignation on December 26, 2016 due to political differences. / AFP PHOTO / EITAN ABRAMOVICH

(FILES) 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. Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri asked Prat-Gay for his resignation on December 26, 2016 due to political differences. / AFP PHOTO / EITAN ABRAMOVICH

Argentine President Mauricio Macri sacked his finance minister Alfonso Prat-Gay on Monday, 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.




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