UPDATE 1-Brazil's Rousseff vows budget cuts, anti-corruption push in 2nd term

jueves 1 de enero de 2015 15:36 GYT

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By Alonso Soto and Silvio Cascione

BRASILIA Jan 1 (Reuters) - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff began her second term Thursday vowing to rein in government spending to curb inflation and pull Latin America's largest economy out of a four-year slump.

As she took the oath of office in Brasilia, Rousseff also promised to embark on an anti-corruption crusade in response to a multibillion-dollar graft scandal engulfing state-run oil company Petrobras that threatens to haunt her second term.

With investors fleeing Brazilian assets in disapproval of her management of the economy during her first term, and with a downgrade of the country's debt hinted by at least one ratings agency, Rousseff, a 67-year-old leftist, pledged to pursue more market-friendly policies.

"More than anybody, I know Brazil needs to resume growth. The first steps of this journey are an overhaul of public accounts, increasing domestic savings, beefing up investments and improving productivity," Rousseff said in her inaugural address to Congress.

Rousseff didn't provide specifics on the budget cuts, though she did promise to undertake the belt-tightening in a way that minimizes the pain for average Brazilians who rely on the government for social welfare benefits.

A career bureaucrat who had never run for public office before becoming the first woman to ascend to Brazil's presidency in 2011, Rousseff spent the last four years juggling an economic downturn and high inflation. She was narrowly re-elected in October after a divisive campaign that touted her record at reducing poverty and keeping unemployment near all-time lows.

To spearhead the change in economic policy, Rousseff previously named banker Joaquim Levy as finance minister. An orthodox economist who holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago, Levy is expected to enact budget cuts and other austerity measures to rebalance public accounts.   Continuación...