May 29, 2020 / 1:11 AM / a month ago

CORRECTED-Costa Rican finance minister steps down amid government shakeup

(Corrects to say Costa Rica’s deficit is expected to be equivalent to 8.6% of its GDP, not that the GDP is expected to contract 8.6%)

SAN JOSE, May 28 (Reuters) - Costa Rican Finance Minister Rodrigo Chaves stepped down on Thursday as part of a significant shakeup to President Carlos Alvarado’s Cabinet midway through his term.

Chaves, who held the role for about six months, said differences with Alvarado on state spending prompted the president to ask for his resignation.

“He told me that the difference in styles does not allow us to continue working together,” Chaves told a news conference after the president’s office announced his departure.

Science and Technology Minister Luis Adrián Salazar and Communications Minister Nancy Marín have also stepped down, the president’s office said.

“The changes are part of the beginning of the second part of the administration,” Alvarado said in a video.

Alvarado did not mention his recent differences with Chaves, who last week published a letter in which he unsuccessfully called for the president to veto a law that removes limits on local government spending.

“If fiscal discipline is always important, it is more so now in the Covid-19 emergency. Loosening that discipline does not seem to me an appropriate policy,” Chaves wrote.

The Costa Rican government says it has the pandemic under control, with 1,000 cases and 10 deaths. Nevertheless, the country’s deficit is expected to be the equivalent of 8.6% of the GDP by the end of the year, according to the treasury. (Reporting by Alvaro Murillo; writing by Julia Love; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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