Peru to Welcome Investment ‘With Open Arms,’ New President Says

  • 77-year-old Wall Street vet sworn in as president Thursday
  • Kuczynski pledges to cut tax and boost infrastructure outlays

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski took office as Peru’s new president Thursday pledging to lower taxes, modernize the country’s infrastructure and roll out a program to connect millions of homes with drinking water.

Speaking to congress in Lima, the 77-year-old former finance minister and Wall Street veteran said his government will reduce bottlenecks to existing infrastructure projects within six months, ease regulation for small businesses and cut the sales tax by 1 percentage point Jan. 1.

Kuczynski clinched the presidency last month after the tightest runoff vote in Peru’s history, pledging to draw on decades of financial and public sector experience to spur investment in mines, roads, railways and ports and provide running water to millions of homes.

By 2021, “we’ll have built infrastructure for development like never has been imagined,” Kuczynski said. “We’ll eliminate the multiple obstacles to the private investment that Peru receives and awaits with open arms.”

The $200 billion economy has posted the fastest growth among major Latin American economies for more than a decade, lifting incomes and halving the poverty rate to 22 percent. Still the Andean nation’s education and health services are among the worst in the region and rising crime has become the top concern for its citizens.

Kuczynski will swear in his 19-member cabinet that includes MBAs, sociologists and economists later Thursday.

Cabinet chief Fernando Zavala will present Kuczynski’s government plan when he seeks a vote of confidence in Congress on Aug. 11. Zavala will subsequently ask Congress for special lawmaking powers to implement measures including tax cuts for small businesses that currently operate in the country’s vast shadow economy.

Attending Kuczynski’s inauguration were six Latin American presidents including Argentina’s Mauricio Macri and Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto, as well as U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Spain’s King Felipe VI.

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