President-elect Luis Guillermo Solís names first half of his Cabinet

April 29, 2014

President-elect Luis Guillermo Solís presented the first half of his Cabinet ministers Monday, appearing to begin his deficit reduction plan by cutting down the number of ministers. He assigned Vice President Helio Fallas to double duty as finance minister, and eliminated the communications minister post altogether.

Although the incoming president presented the first round of his Cabinet assignments at the National Children’s Museum in San José, several posts still must be filled. Solís, a former diplomat, did not name a foreign minister and held back several other announcements, saying the rest of the government team would be presented on April 28.

The president-elect also announced he would start his traditional tour of Central American states and the Dominican Republic on April 22. However, Solís would not visit Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, he said, citing Costa Rica’s pending disputes with its northern neighbor at the International Court of Justice.

Fallas, 67, said he hoped to cut Costa Rica’s deficit of 5.4 percent of gross domestic product by one percent in a year’s time through improved tax collection and reducing the government budget. The finance minister-to-be told The Tico Times that the exact shape of his dual duties was still inchoate, but that he would meet all his ministerial duties and coordinate dialogue between the presidency and the finance ministries on economic issues.

The vice president has a master’s degree in economics from the University of the Andes and previously served as minister of planning (1990-1991) and housing (2002-2005).

Solís named Celso Gamboa, the current vice minister of public security and head of the Costa Rican intelligence agency, as his new public security minister.

Gamboa, 37, told The Tico Times that prevention would be the primary focus of his term as chief law enforcement officer. “I prefer that no one gets killed so that we don’t have to go out and catch them. I’d prefer the event never happens in the first place.”

The vice minister, the only holdover from President Laura Chinchilla’s administration, said he would direct resources to at-risk youth crime prevention programs.

“That’s where we need to put all our resources, because they’re the Costa Rica of tomorrow,” he said.

Gamboa described himself as a technocrat and said he had no political tint when asked if there would be any issue serving in two governments of different political affiliation.

Solís named Carlos Segnini, a 44-year-old lawyer, to head the troubled Public Works and Transport Ministry, or MOPT. The Citizen Action Party leader said that revamping MOPT and re-establishing its ability to perform large public works projects, especially in transportation, was a top priority of his incoming government.

Solís said he would not name anyone to the communications minister post, adding that his government would have a more “austere” publicity budget than Chinchilla’s government. Solís joked to a scrum of reporters that they were all professionals and the he intended to continue Costa Rica’s tradition of access to ministers.

Solís, who plans to freeze ministerial salaries, said none of his Cabinet nods turned down the position because of pay.

Here’s a full list of the posts Solís announced Monday:
Presidency Ministry (Chief of Staff): Melvin Jimenez Marín

Finance Ministry: Helio Fallas Venegas

Public Works & Transport Ministry: Carlos Segnini Villalobos

Public Security and Interior Ministry: Celso Gamboa Sánchez

Education Ministry: Sonia Marta Mora Escalante

Labor Ministry: Víctor Manuel Morales Mora

Energy and Environment Ministry: Edgar Gutiérrez

Health Ministry: María Elena Lopez Núñez

Costa Rican Tourism Institute: Wilhelm von Breymann Barquero

Central Bank: Olivier Castro Pérez

Culture and Youth Ministry: Elizabeth Fonseca Corrales

Foreign Trade Ministry: Alexander Mora Delgado

Economy Ministry: Welmer Ramos González

National Institute for Women: Alejandra Mora Mora

Costa Rican Electricity Institute: Carlos Manuel Obregón Quesada

Sports Ministry: Carolina Muari Carabaguías

National Water and Sewer Institute: Yamileth Astorga Espeleta

Planning Ministry: Olga Marta Sánchez Oviedo

National Insurance Institute: Sergio Iván Alfaro Salas

Mixed Institute for Social Aid : Carlos Alvarado Quesada
(Not Pictured)

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