By Nicolás Misculin
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s lower house congressional leader Sergio Massa will take charge of a new economy “superministry,” the government said on Thursday, the latest twist in President Alberto Fernandez’s struggle to contain a worsening economic crisis.
Veteran politician Massa will lead a new ministry overseeing economic, manufacturing and agricultural policy.
“The Ministries of Economy, Productive Development and Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries will be unified, also including relations with international, bilateral and multilateral credit organizations. The new ministry will be headed by Sergio Massa,” the government announced in a statement.
Earlier on Thursday, Argentina’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by eight percentage points to 60%, marking its seventh hike this year alone, in a renewed push to tame surging inflation in Latin America’s third-biggest economy.
Separately on Thursday, local media reported that existing Economy Minister Silvina Batakis, who has served less than a month in the job, offered her resignation but that Fernandez rejected it. Newspaper Clarin reported late on Wednesday that Fernandez was planning replace her with Massa.
It remained unclear what kind of role Batakis, who had gone to Washington earlier this week to meet with investors, lenders and U.S. officials, might keep with Massa overseeing the newly-created “superministry.”
(This story has been refiled to fix byline, no changes to text)
(Reporting by Nicolas Misculin; Editing by Christian Plumb)