(Adds timeline for pension reform, new BNDES chief)
By Alonso Soto
BRASILIA, May 16 (Reuters) - Brazilian Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles will likely pick Itau Unibanco’s chief economist, Ilan Goldfajn, to head the central bank in a bid to recover investors’ confidence, an official familiar with the discussions told Reuters on Monday.
Meirelles, a former central bank chief, delayed the announcement of his economic team until Tuesday to give his picks more time to leave their jobs in the private sector, said the official who asked for anonymity to speak freely.
He will unveil his appointments, including the next central bank president, on Tuesday, according to the ministry’s press office.
Meirelles’ press office declined to comment on whether Goldfajn was his pick for the central bank. Goldfajn could not immediately be reached for comment.
Goldfajn, an MIT-trained economist widely respected on Wall Street, was the central bank’s director of economic policy between 2000 and 2003.
In an opinion piece published by the local daily O Globo on April 5, Goldfajn warned against a hasty interest rate cut but acknowledged slowing inflation will allow the central bank to start easing monetary policy later this year.
Under the leadership of Alexandre Tombini the central bank has repeatedly missed its annual inflation targets, hurting the bank’s inflation-fighting credentials and fueling speculation of political interference.
Goldfajn could replace Tombini before the bank’s next rate-setting meeting on June 8, the official said. Last week, Temer’s press office told Reuters Tombini could stay on the job until June for a gradual leadership change.
Interim President Michel Temer, who replaced President Dilma Rousseff last week after she was suspended by the Senate to stand trial for breaking fiscal rules, picked Meirelles to revive an economy mired in one of its worst recessions in memory.
The interim government will set up a working group with union leaders to draft a pension reform bill in 30 days, said union bosses who met with Temer on Monday. An overhaul of the costly pension system is key for Brazil to plug a widening fiscal gap that cost the country its coveted investment grade credit rating last year.
The Temer administration is forecasting a primary budget deficit of more than 120 billion reais ($34.27 billion) for this year, well above the 97 billion reais estimated by the previous government, said three officials familiar with the matter.
Temer plans to submit this week a bill to change the estimate for the primary deficit, which is the budget gap prior to interest debt payments, Planning Minister Romero Juca said on Monday.
In another key leadership change, the administration appointed Maria Silvia Bastos, a former chief executive of steelmaker CSN, to head state development bank BNDES, Temer’s press office said on Monday. ($1 = 3.5017 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Alonso Soto; Editing by W Simon and Alan Crosby)