New Argentina government aims to dismantle currency controls Dec 14 – newspapers

BUENOS AIRES Argentina’s incoming finance minister, Alfonso Prat-Gay, will aim to lift currency controls and unify the country’s multi-tiered exchange rate from Dec. 14, a few days after the new government assumes power, Prat-Gay told local media Sunday.

“If we can do it the 14th, we’ll do it the 14th, and if not, we’ll do it once we see the right conditions,” Prat-Gay was quoted saying in local dailies La Nacion, Perfil and Clarin.

President-elect Mauricio Macri picked Prat-Gay, a former JP Morgan executive and ex-central bank chief, to help him end more than a decade of free-spending populism that has hobbled growth and stoked inflation in Latin America’s third largest economy.

Prat-Gay said he would only be able to start dismantling years of restrictions on dollar purchases after a new central bank president assumes power.

“Lifting currency controls with current (central bank) authorities would be very hard,” Prat-Gay was quoted saying.

Macri plans to name former Buenos Aires city bank chief Federico Sturzenegger as the new head of the central bank after leftist president Cristina Fernandez’s term ends on Dec. 10.

Macri has called the current central bank president, Alejandro Vanoli, to step down to make way for currency devaluation to spur exports and halt the drain on central bank reserves used to prop up the peso. Vanoli has said he may resign in coming days.

Prat-Gay also said that he hopes to make an announcement soon on a new source of hard currency that will help the central bank restore its dwindling reserves.

(Reporting by Juliana Castilla; Writing by Mitra Taj; Editing by Mark Potter)