Peru's president-elect urges new cabinet to bolster ties with grassroots

Added On July 28, 2016

LIMA, July 27 (Xinhua) -- Peru's president-elect Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has urged his cabinet to strengthen ties with the grassroots, saying the central government must work hand in hand with regional and local decision makers.

At a meeting with foreign correspondents in Lima on Tuesday, Kuczynski laid out his plans to tackle the country's pressing problems, including the lack of access to basic services that still affects large portions of Peru.

Between 30 percent and 40 percent of Peruvians have no access to potable water or plumbing and education, while crime is a growing concern, said Kuczynski, who is to take office on Thursday.

"We have five years to govern (until 2021). It is a very short time and that's why we have to work from the grassroots. The grassroots are the people and the cities," Kuczynski said.

"The central government is very high up and very far away from the people. We have to get it closer to the (local and regional) governing agencies, which see the people every day," he added.

To help him achieve his goal, Kuczynski recently unveiled his cabinet led by economist Fernando Zavala as president of the council of ministers, or prime minister.

The two previously worked together during the presidency of Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), when Kuczynski was economy and finance minister and Zavala was deputy minister. In the final year of Toledo's term, Kuczynski was named prime minister and Zavala became economy and finance chief.

Among other things, Zavala's mission will be to build bridges with a legislature controlled by the powerful Keiko Fujimori-led opposition Popular Force party, which holds 73 of the 130 seats.

Kuczynski's ruling Peruvians for Change party holds just 18 seats, while the Broad Front holds 20. The remaining seats are scattered among three other parties.

The incoming president has said he is confident of being able to reach agreements with the opposition on fundamental issues.

The Economy and Finance Ministry will be headed by Alfredo Thorne, a trained economist with a PhD from Oxford and a master from Cambridge.

Thorne's resume includes stints at the World Bank, JP Morgan Chase Bank and Mexico's Banorte-IXE financial group.

Ricardo Luna, a former fellow student of Kuczynski from Princeton, will be heading the Foreign Relations Ministry, following diplomatic posts in Britain and the United States.

Kuczynski has not signalled any major foreign policy objectives, saying the ministry should maintain friendly ties with all countries and stand up for democratic principles.

His cabinet has been described as more technical than political in nature, perhaps because Kuczynski is known more for his private-sector experience than public posts.

Following the unveiling of his cabinet, a survey showed that more than 60 percent of the people have confidence in Kuczynski's ability to lead the country.