Argentine President Names New Economy Minister

President Christine Fernandez replaced Argentina's economy minister and the Cabinet chief Tuesday, a little over a week after her supporters suffered a stinging defeat in congressional elections.

The Cabinet changes were announced a few hours after an
opposition leader urged Fernandez to start cooperating with her
political foes on addressing the country's economic problems.

A presidential spokesman, Alfredo Scoccimarro, said Economy
Minister Carlos Fernandez and Cabinet chief Sergio Massa would be
replaced. He said Amado Boudou, the head of the National Social
Security Administration, would be the new economy minister. Anibal
Fernandez, the justice minister, was named head of the Cabinet.

Scoccimarro said they would take over the posts Wednesday, but
gave no other details and did not say why the president decided on
the change.

The country's economic slump was seen as one factor in the June
28 election results, which saw the president's loyalists lose control of both houses of congress.

Earlier Tuesday, Francisco De Narvaez, one of the leaders of the forces that wrested away power in congress, urged Fernandez to
start working with the opposition to slow public spending and boost
transparency in government actions as a way to regain the confidence of investors.

De Narvaez, who defeated Fernandez's husband and predecessor as
president, Nestor Kirchner, in a congressional race, warned that waiting for new legislators to be sworn in Dec. 10 might be too late. He said the economy could "collapse" if changes aren't made.

He also called on Fernandez's opponents to work together to push
her to action. "We have to collaborate and cooperate so that the
government changes its course," he told reporters. "We have to
help the government find a way."

De Narvaez repeated claims by independent economists that the government has underreported inflation and overstated the pace of
economic growth.

"Fiscal accounts aren't what they say they are, they're worse," he said.

The president's office and the Finance Ministry declined to respond to De Narvaez's comments.

After recording annual increases of more than 7 percent each
year since 2003, Argentina's economy has slowed sharply amid the
global downturn, with an annual growth rate of just 2 percent in the three months. About $20 billion in interest and debt payments are due this year, boosting fears of a fiscal crunch.


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