Petro Shakes Up Colombia’s Cabinet as His Economic Reforms Stall

(Bloomberg) -- President Gustavo Petro reshuffled Colombia’s cabinet as the leftist leader approaches the midpoint of his four-year term with his flagship economic reforms under threat in congress and the courts.

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The leftist leader has replaced his interior, agriculture, transport, and justice ministers in the past few days. Ricardo Bonilla remains the country’s finance chief.

Juan Fernando Cristo, an ally of former President Juan Manuel Santos, will take over the interior ministry, Petro announced Wednesday in a post on X. Cristo will be tasked with “moving the government’s social reforms forward in Congress,” as well as promoting the nation’s peace process, Petro said.

Other incoming cabinet members include María Constanza García, Ángela María Buitrago and Martha Carvajalino leading the transportation, justice and agriculture ministries respectively.

Petro took office in August 2022, pledging to overhaul Colombia’s conservative economic model and end its dependence on fossil fuels. Last month, he successfully passed his flagship pension bill, but many constitutional experts argue that the courts will kill it. His health, education, and labor bills, meanwhile, have been bogged down in the legislature as he struggles to maintain his fragile ruling coalition.

The administration is planning to send an economic package to congress in the second half of the year, including a modification in its so-called fiscal rule, which sets limits on government borrowing.

The government is also grappling with tight fiscal accounts, as lower-than-expected revenue forced the government to cut its budget. The administration is now targeting a budget deficit equivalent to 5.6% of economic output, the widest since the pandemic.

--With assistance from Matthew Bristow.

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