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UPDATE 2-Brazil's Bolsonaro tips farm caucus leader to be agriculture minister

Updated: 08-11-2018 02:46 IST
Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro named Congresswoman Tereza Cristina, the leader of Brazil's farm caucus, to be his agriculture minister on Wednesday, ditching a plan to downgrade the environment ministry by merging the portfolios.

Bolsonaro tweeted to confirm the appointment, first announced by the caucus' vice president. Cristina, a trained agronomist, was elected to a second term in Congress in October representing the major farm state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

She is the first woman to be named as a minister under far-right Bolsonaro, who had yet to name any female advisors to his transition team and is famous for making misogynistic remarks.

Bolsonaro, who takes office on Jan. 1, vowed during his election campaign to merge the agriculture and environment ministries, a move environmentalists said would lead deforestation to explode and the farm sector said would strain trade relationships.

But farm caucus Vice President Alceu Moreira told reporters on Wednesday that Bolsonaro would keep the ministries separate.

Bolsonaro also met with incumbent President Michel Temer on Wednesday to discuss prospects for urgent economic reforms and a potential joint foreign trip at the end of the month.

At a press conference after the meeting, Temer said he invited Bolsonaro to accompany him to the G20 summit from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1 in Buenos Aires as part of the transition to the new government.

Bolsonaro said this week he would discuss with Temer the need to push through pension reform this year to bring the country's gaping budget deficit under control.

On Wednesday, he said he planned to quickly advance pension and tax reforms as the country tries to fend off what he described as a severe economic crisis.

He also promised to prioritize a solution for Brazil's public security problems, a central plank in the former army captain's platform that emphasizes law and order.

Augusto Heleno, the head of a group of retired army generals who backed Bolsonaro's presidential bid, will take the top security position in the new cabinet, a spokesman for the transition team said on Wednesday.

Heleno had been announced as the next defense minister. But Bolsonaro will instead tap a senior navy officer as defense minister to balance the preponderance of retired army generals in key posts, according to Vice President-elect Hamilton Moura, himself a retired army general.

Bolsonaro told reporters that the chief executive of state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Ivan Monteiro, was not expected to stay in the new administration.

GloboNews TV channel later reported that Bolsonaro would keep Monteiro, who took the helm of the world's most indebted listed oil company in June. Monteiro said Tuesday he was open to staying if invited.

Petrobras did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bolsonaro said he and his economic guru Paulo Guedes had not discussed the fate of central bank chief Ilan Goldfajn.

His foreign minister will be a career diplomat, he said. (Reporting by Ricardo Brito, Lissandra Paraguassú, Jake Spring, Anthony Boadle and Marcela Ayres in Brasilia and Marta Nogueira in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Richard Chang and James Dalgleish)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)