Economist Alberto Arenas named Chile's finance minister

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 24, 2014 3:10 PM

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chilean President-elect Michelle Bachelet named on Friday the cabinet of ministers who she hopes will help her pass a planned program of wide-reaching reforms, with her trusted adviser Alberto Arenas taking the role of finance minister.

Arenas, an economist and Socialist party member, will be tasked with juggling demands for increased public spending with a cooling economy after the new administration takes the reins on March 11.

The 48-year-old Arenas, who was head of the budget during Bachelet's first term, had been the favorite to take the post. He has said that battling Chile's entrenched income inequality and fomenting economic growth are not incompatible.

Diplomat Heraldo Munoz, formerly Chile's ambassador to the United Nations and the author of "The Dictator's Shadow," a book about life in Chile under Augusto Pinochet, will be foreign minister.

Munoz's first challenge will be implementing the verdict of the International Court of Justice in the Hague on a maritime dispute with neighboring Peru. The verdict is due Monday.

The key posts of energy minister and mining minister -- Chile is the world's top copper exporter -- will be filled by veteran politician and businessman Maximo Pacheco and relative unknown Aurora Williams, respectively.

(Reporting by Santiago bureau; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler)