SÃO PAULO, Brazil — President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina formally dismissed the president of Argentina’s central bank on Wednesday and vowed to follow through with her plan to tap $6.59 billion of the country’s reserves to pay down foreign debt, a demand that the bank president had refused to heed.
Mrs. Kirchner announced in a news conference that Mercedes Marcó del Pont, 50, would replace the central bank’s president, Martín Redrado. Mrs. Kirchner also vowed to keep pushing to use bank reserves to help pay $13 billion of Argentina’s foreign debt that is due this year. “It makes sense to pay the debt with reserves,” she said, contending that doing so would help lower interest rates and help Argentina to tap global finance markets again.
The move is the latest in a continuing struggle among Mrs. Kirchner’s government, the central bank and Argentina’s courts over her decision in January to tap a part of the bank’s $48 billion in reserves by presidential decree. When Mr. Redrado refused, citing the bank’s autonomy, she fired him, only to have a federal judge rule days later that she could not take either action without congressional approval.
After being barred by the police from returning to his office at the bank, Mr. Redrado resigned on Friday. But the Kirchner government said it would not accept his resignation without hearing from a three-member congressional committee. The committee delivered its recommendation to Mrs. Kirchner on Tuesday, but it did not comment publicly.
On Wednesday, Mrs. Kirchner finally replaced Mr. Redrado with Ms. Marcó del Pont. She was previously the president of the state-owned Banco de la Nación Argentina and served as a congresswoman as a member of Mrs. Kirchner’s Front for Victory Party from 2003 to 2007. Mrs. Kirchner said that while in Congress, Ms. Marcó del Pont had proposed a bill that sought to redefine the role of the central bank so that it would work more closely with the government on enacting economic policy.
Argentina’s Congress is expected to take up the question of tapping the reserves to pay down debt when it reconvenes in March after a summer recess.Continue reading the main story
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