Chile's finance minister out in Cabinet reshuffle

Reuters News
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Posted: May 11, 2015 8:33 AM

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Rodrigo Valdes was named as Chile's new finance minister on Monday, as incumbent Alberto Arenas lost his job in an extensive Cabinet reshuffle by President Michelle Bachelet that also saw the interior minister replaced.

Valdes is currently chairman of state bank Banco del Estado. He has a doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was formerly a deputy director of the International Monetary Fund and chief economist at Chile's central bank.

He has also previously worked at the finance ministry, as co-ordinator of economic policy in the early 2000's.

It is the first time since Chile returned to democracy in 1990 that the finance minister has been dismissed mid-term.

Center-left Bachelet's approval has hit historic lows in recent weeks, dragged down by a series of financial scandals, as well as a slowing economy and disillusion with her reform drive.

"Today it is time to give the government a new lease of life and this new phase which is as demanding as it is inspiring requires renovated energy and new faces," she said.

Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo was replaced by political veteran Jorge Burgos. In total there were six new appointees to the cabinet, with three further changes of role.

(Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien and Anthony Esposito; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and W Simon)