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Chile: Team Piñera

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Latin Business Chronicle takes a closer look at the new cabinet of Chilean President Sebastian Piñera.

 

BY CHRONICLE STAFF

 

Chile’s new president Sebastian Piñera is clearly under pressure to help the country recover from a devastating earthquake while trying to also comply with his pre-election promises of boosting GDP growth and jobs.

 

To achieve that goal he has surrounded himself with a cabinet of prominent businesspeople and economists. Half of the 22 ministers have background from the private sector.  Several bring relevant experience to their new cabinet posts.

 

That’s the case with the new justice minister, Felipe Bulnes, who is a founding partner of the law firm Bulnes, Pellegrini & Urrutia and a leading arbitration attorney. Or the new interior minister, Rodrigo Hinzpeter, who is a partner of the law firm Bofill Mir & Hinzpeter and a former foreign attorney in New York for the US law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

The new labor minister, Camila Merino, has worked as vice president for human resources at SQM,
Chile's biggest exporter of fertilizers. The new health minister, Jaime Mañalich, had been medical director of the private Clínica Las Condes since 1995. Meanwhile, Catalina Parot, a former General Manager of winery Viña Corral Victoria, is minister of national heritage.

 

The 60 year old Piñera is himself a successful businessman and self-made billionaire. He built up the Visa and MasterCard business in Chile and has been involved in everything from real estate and media to sports and aviation. He was a major shareholder of airline LAN until he sold his stock after winning the presidential elections.

 

While many of the new ministers will be focusing on the reconstruction after several deathly earthquakes the past few weeks, they will also be heavily involved in shaping policy aimed at boosting Chile’s GDP, which grew an average of  3.3 percent the past five years compared with 3.7 percent in Latin America.


Latin Business Chronicle presents the key team for the economy and business.

 

Felipe Larraín

Finance Minister

Felipe Larraín, 52, is one of
Chile’s most prominent economists. He co-authored the book Macroeconomics in the Global Economy along with noted economist Jeffrey Sachs and has been an economic advisor to governments in Canada, Costa Rica, Venezuela and Peru as well as the Asian Development Bank.  He holds a civil engineering degree from the Catholic University of Chile and a PhD in economics from Harvard University, where he later worked as visiting professor at the Robert Kennedy Latin America Studies chair.

Juan Andrés Fontaine

Economy and Development Minister

Juan Andrés Fontaine, 55, has headed up consultancy firm Fontaine y Paúl Consultores, with clients locally and internationally. He is a former research director at the central bank and was part of the team that drafted the new central bank law. In the 1990’s he worked as a visiting professor at the
University of California in Los Angeles. He holds a commercial engineering degree from the Catholic University of Chile and an M.A. in economics from the University of Chicago.

 

Cristián Larroulet

President’s Chief of Staff

 

Piñera’s 56-year old chief of staff will likely be helping shape economic policy in light of his extensive background developing ideas for such policies. Larroulet was for many years executive director of Instituto Libertad y Desarrollo (LYD), the most prominent think tank advocating free-market ideas in Chile.  His career also includes serving as chief of staff of Hernán Büchi when he was finance minister in the 1980’s. Büchi spearheaded the economic liberalization in the Pinochet dictatorship following advice from the late Nobel economic laureate Milton Friedman. Like Büchi, Larroulet is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where he earned his masters in economics. Larroulet has also worked as a professor at the Catholic University of Chile, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez and Universidad de Chile. He was a visiting fellow at the Institute of the Americas at the University of San Diego in California. Last year he was named Economist of the Year by Chile’s top newspaper El Mercurio.

 

Laurence Golborne

Mining Minister

 

Laurence Golborne, 48, will help shape policy in Chile's important mining sector, which includes state giant Codelco (the world's largest copper producer). He was CEO of Chile’s top retailer Cencosud until last year. During his tenure at the company he aggressively expanded its global reach. He has also served on various company boards and the advisory group of France-based Havas Media Group for Chile, Peru and Bolivia. He holds a civil engineering degree from the Catholic University of Chile and MBA’s from Northwestern University and Stanford.

Felipe Morandé

Transport and Telecommunications

 

Felipe Morandé, 54, is a longtime dean of the Economics and Business Faculty of the University of Chile, a former director of the postgraduate program at ILADES/Georgetown University and has also taught at Minnesota and Houston universities.  He has served as research director of the powerful Chilean Construction Chamber and as research head and chief economist at the Central Bank. He has also served as an advisor to The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). He holds a commercial engineering and economics degree from the Catholic University of Chile and a PhD in economics from the University of Minnesota.

 

Felipe Kast
Planning Minister

Felipe Kast, 32, can boast an unusual background for a member of Chile’s new right-of-center government. He studied economics and sociology at the University of Havana in Cuba. He is most known, though, as working with the free-market think tank LYD and at the Poverty Action Lab, a program developed jointly by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Catholic University of Chile. He has also served as an advisor for The World Bank and the University of Harvard. In addition to his Cuban studies, he holds a commercial engineering and economics degrees from the Catholic University of Chile as well as a PhD in public policy from Harvard University.

 

Ricardo Raineri

Energy Minister

 

Ricardo Raineri, 48, is one of Chile’s top experts on energy regulation. His background is mainly academic, working as a professor at the Catholic University of Chile, the Sloan School of Management at MIT and the University of Minnesota. He holds a commercial engineering degree from the Catholic University of Chile and a M.A. and PhD in economics from the University of Minnesota.

 

Hernán de Solminihac

Public Works Minister

Hernán de Solminihac, 52, is a former dean of the Engineering Faculty at the Catholic University of Chile. He holds a civil engineering degree from the Catholic University of Chile and doctorate in engineering degree from the
University of Texas at Austin. 

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