San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
The Solís Administration

President Luis Guillermo Solís appoints new Presidency Minister

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís announced Friday that Sergio Alfaro Salas would be the new Presidency Minister starting on May 1.

Alfaro, who’s leaving his post as executive president of the National Insurance Institute (INS) to take the job, replaces Melvin Jiménez Marín, who submitted his resignation on Thursday at president Solís’ request.

The resignation followed a series of conflicts and public relations scandals blamed on the now ex minister.

The new minister is a politician and lawyer who worked in private practice immediately before taking the helm of INS. He served as a lawmaker for the ruling Citizen Action Party from 2007 to 2010.

President Solís said he asked Alfaro “to work to improve channels of communication with the Legislative Assembly and other groups.”

“He will enforce all necessary changes that support our efforts to reduce poverty, boost economic growth and job creation,” Solís added.

Vice Minister Ana Gabriel Zúñiga Aponte will fill in as Presidency Minister for the rest of the month.

Alfaro publicly accepted the post at a news conference on Friday, and said he would carry out the job “with total loyalty and total respect for the law, with the help of President Solís.”

The Presidency Minister is the Executive Branch’s main liaison to all social and political sectors in the country, akin to the White House Chief of Staff. Among the post’s main responsabilities, the Presidency Minister is required to lead the work of all other ministers and promote the government’s agenda in the Legislative Assembly.

While in office, ex minister Jiménez received harsh criticism from legislators and various interest groups for his lack of negotiation skills.

Alfaro said he’ll work to improve dialogue, and he promised to promote a closer relationship between the presidency and all the country’s major interest groups.

Outgoing Minister Jiménez is the fourth minister and 15th official to leave the administration during Solís’ 11 months in office.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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