Argentina has new economy minister after abrupt resignation

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina got a new economy minister late Sunday, a day after her predecessor’s abrupt resignation shook the governing coalition at a time when it was already facing a unity crisis.

Gabriela Cerruti, the spokesman for the presidency, wrote on Twitter late Sunday that Silvina Batakis will now head the Ministry of Economy, replacing Martín Guzmán.

The choice could be critical for President Alberto Fernández’s government as it faces sharp internal divisions as Argentina experiences economic turmoil.

Batakis will be responsible for managing an economy crippled by an annual inflation rate of more than 60% and will play a key role in shaping the future of the country’s recent deal with the International Monetary Fund to reduce the debt of $ 44 billion to restructure. Many left-wing members of the governing coalition are against the IMF deal.

From 2011 to 2015, Batakis was Minister of Economy of the province of Buenos Aires, the country’s most populous district, under the then government. Daniel Scioli, who was recently appointed federal production minister.

Guzmán pulled out unexpectedly on Saturday, posting his seven-page resignation letter to Twitter, and appointing a successor before markets open Monday was seen as particularly important in preventing a further decline in the Argentine peso, which recently reached an all-time low. against the dollar.

The economy has also been disrupted by truck drivers’ strikes over diesel shortages.

Guzmán was largely unknown when he became a minister and was seen as a moderate in the governing coalition, which includes more left-wing elements allied to Vice President Cristina Fernández, a former president who still has a strong base.

Batakis, on the other hand, has a long history of public service and is seen as having a close relationship with the Vice President and her allies.

The vice president, who is not related to the president, has recently openly criticized the government’s economic policies in high-profile speeches that have spotlighted rifts within the governing coalition.

Guzmán’s letter of resignation, released as the vice president delivered a speech again criticizing economic policy, suggested he was stepping down at least in part due to a lack of political support.

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