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Saturday January 25, 2014 MYT 4:21:23 AM
Saturday January 25, 2014 MYT 4:22:40 AM
SANTIAGO (Reuters) - President-elect Michelle Bachelet unveiled her cabinet on Friday, putting forth a mix of political veterans and fresh faces meant to help her navigate a tricky Congress and a slowing economy.
Centre-left Bachelet, who governed Chile from 2006 to 2010, has promised a blitz of reforms designed to combat entrenched income inequality in the Andean country.
She will need deft political operators to help steer those reforms through Congress and manage relations with social movements clamouring for change in Chile, which has steep income inequality.
Following are brief biographies of some of those who have picked up key ministerial jobs:
FINANCE MINISTER: ALBERTO ARENAS
Economist and academic Alberto Arenas will take the reins of the Finance Ministry, where he will have to balance increased social spending with a moderately easing economy.
As one of Bachelet's most trusted advisers and the public face of her economic program, the 48-year-old Socialist had been seen as the closest thing to a shoo-in.
Arenas, who was head of the budget during Bachelet's first term, helped draw up her flagship plans to hike corporate taxes and strike down some dictatorship-era laws on investment. He has said these reforms are crucial if Chile wants to make the leap from a developing country to a developed one.
One of his major challenges will be easing the impact of ebbing prices for top export copper on Chile's small, export-dependent economy.
Arenas has stressed that battling the Andean country's entrenched income inequality and fomenting economic growth are not incompatible.
He holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Pittsburgh.
ENERGY MINISTER: MAXIMO PACHECO
Economist and businessman Maximo Pacheco, who has worked for state miner Codelco and several private companies, will head the Energy Ministry.
As minister, he will have to reckon with a looming crunch as production fails to keep up with demand from juice-starved miners. Pacheco will also face pressure to take a firmer hand regulating the energy and mining sector, as Chileans increasingly oppose mega projects they deem invasive or polluting.
Bachelet will likely make liquefied natural gas the backbone of her energy policy.
FOREIGN MINISTER: HERALDO MUNOZ
Heraldo Munoz is a high-profile politician, writer and academic who currently works for the United Nations Development Programme.
He previously served as deputy foreign minister and as Chile's ambassador to the United Nations, the Organization of American States and Brazil.
Munoz was part of the successful campaign to defeat dictator Augusto Pinochet in a 1988 plebiscite about his rule.
The post will require keen diplomacy, with Monday's decision from the Hague on a maritime border spat with neighbouring Peru likely to cause controversy.
Chile also began a stint on the United Nations Security Council this month.
MINING MINISTER: AURORA WILLIAMS
A relative unknown, Aurora Williams was a surprise choice to become head of the Mining Ministry in the world's top copper producer.
She was formerly the head of the mining-intensive Antofagasta region's Public Works division.
The mining minister is traditionally a political post with very little decision-making involved.
Still, Williams will be in charge of attracting mining investment in the country as lower metal prices, dwindling ore grades and spiralling costs bite the industry.
(Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer, Felipe Iturrieta and Fabian Cambero; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer and Leslie Adler)
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