World / Latin America

Chilean President Bachelet unveils new cabinet

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-05-12 10:23

Chilean President Bachelet unveils new cabinet

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet (C) gives a speech during a ceremony where a package of measures to control the relationship between politics and business was launched, at the La Moneda Palace, in Santiago, Chile, May 11, 2015. [Photo/IC]

SANTIAGO -- Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Monday tapped Rodrigo Valdes, an economist, as the country's finance minister economist, in a drastic cabinet reshuffle and a resolution to revive confidence in her scandal-hit government.

Apart from Valdes, Bachelet also named former Defense minister Jorge Burgos as the Interior Minister. There were altogether six new appointees to the cabinet, with three changes of role.

Observers believe that the efforts are taken to recover the public's support after polls last week showed President Bachelet's approval rating had fallen to 31 percent.

Bachelet, who is just 14 months into her second term as president, ended her first presidency with an approval rating of more than 80 percent. But this time around, a corruption scandal involving her son and ex-government official Sebastian Davalos, and her lackluster response, has threatened to sink her administration.

During a meeting with her new cabinet at the presidential palace, Bachelet told the ministers, "It is time to give new impetus to the task of governing ... and it requires renewed efforts and new faces at the forefront of the commitments we have made to the country and that the people demand."

She also unveiled administrative measures for greater transparency, including raising the number of government officials obligated to make asset declarations, and said proposals to boost transparency will be presented to Congress within 45 days, including campaign spending reform and caps on donations to candidates for national and local posts.

"I will submit a bill that will make it illegal to give gifts to candidates," said Bachelet.

She did not specifically mention her son, who has been accused of influence peddling and illegal enrichment for using his family ties to secure a multimillion-dollar loan to purchase real estate for a huge profit. But she appeared to allude to his case.

"Speculation and artificial enrichment not based on work, effort or innovation harm us as a society," said Bachelet, announcing another bill to "prevent undue influence and speculation in zoning changes."

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