Argentina names economy ‘super minister’ as crisis deepens
Argentina’s government has announced the appointment of an economic “super minister’”, the third economy minister in less than a month as the country struggles with high inflation and a slumping currency.
Sergio Massa, the head of Congress’ lower house, will lead a new ministry that combines the current Economy, Productive Development, and Agriculture ministries, President Alberto Fernandez’s government said.
The appointment comes only a few weeks since the left-leaning Silvina Batakis was tapped as economy minister after the more moderate Martin Guzman abruptly quit, saying he wasn’t getting political support in dealing with Argentina’s economic woes.
Batakis is staying on in the government and will lead the state-owned bank Banco Nacion.
Batakis was sworn in as economy minister on July 4, two days after Guzman resigned as tensions within the governing alliance burst out in the open.
Since then, Argentina’s already sinking peso has sharply depreciated amid broad expectation that a formal devaluation is all but inevitable at a time when inflation is running at an an annual rate above 60 percent and the Central Bank is running perilously low on hard currency reserves.
Massa is seen as a pro-market moderate who has strong political influence to negotiate with different factions of the coalition as well as the opposition. He has also spent years building connections with the country’s business elite as well as officials in the United States.
Massa willl now have to play the role of peacemaker in a country where almost 40 percent of the people are poor and there have been increasing protests calling for more social welfare, which runs head-on against demands made by the IMF to cut back on spending.