Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Mexican President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto named former campaign manager Luis Videgaray as co-head of the team that will set policy direction for the new government that takes office on Dec. 1.
Videgaray, who’s often mentioned as a possible finance minister or chief of staff, will manage the transition team with Miguel Osorio Chong, Pena Nieto said at a press conference today in Mexico City. Emilio Lozoya will head the international agenda. The incoming president didn’t name a finance coordinator, and Videgaray will handle that issue for now, Lozoya said in an interview.
“In this period of transition, we’ll be dedicating time to define actions to be implemented as of Dec. 1,” Pena Nieto told reporters.
Pena Nieto’s campaign focused on promises to ease restrictions for employers to hire and fire workers, overhaul the tax system to increase government revenue and open the oil industry to more private investment. He may choose Videgaray as finance minister because of his proximity to the incoming president and experience working as his finance chief in Mexico state, Sergio Luna, chief economist for Citigroup Inc.’s Banamex unit said in an interview today.
Others see Videgaray, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party that Pena Nieto will restore to power after a 12-year hiatus, as a potential cabinet chief.
“It makes a lot more sense to have him as the head of the president’s office, the guy who’s going to bring everybody into line, to act as the main line of communication with the Congress,” said Duncan Wood, a professor of international relations at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico.
Videgaray, 44, twice refinanced Mexico state’s debt, leading to its first ever investment grade rating. He helped reduce the amount owed by the state by 45 percent in the past decade, according to Mexico City-based Aregional, a public finance research organization.
In addition to Lozoya, whose father was an energy minister under Carlos Salinas de Gortari in the 1990s, other advisers include Enrique de la Madrid Cordero, the son of former President Miguel de la Madrid, who will serve as agriculture coordinator for Pena Nieto.
Ildefonso Guajardo will be an economic adviser, Cuauhtemoc Ochoa was named as energy policy coordinator, and Fernando Galindo will be in charge of negotiating the budget with the current government. Roberto Rafael Campa will be the security coordinator and Eduardo Sanchez will be the president-elect’s spokesman.
Videgaray earned a doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His market-friendly leanings and political savvy will help him push ahead with economic changes that have proved too much for previous governments, Gabriel Casillas, chief economist and head of research at Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB in Mexico City, said in an interview before the announcement.
“The challenges he’ll face with Calderon’s National Action Party will not be as difficult as the challenges he’ll face within his own party,” which has stalled changes in the past, Casillas said. “But he has significant experience in the public sector that will help him.”
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