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ECONOMY | 11-08-2022 00:03

Massa gains ground in energy sector power struggle ahead of IMF talks

Sergio Massa removes Energy Secretary Darío Martínez, replacing him with Salta’s Flavia Royón; Power tussle for control of the energy sector finally pans out in the exit of Darío Martínez.

Energy Secretary Darío Martínez resigned last Sunday, five days after the arrival of ‘super-minister’ Sergio Massa in the Economy Ministry and his first announcements geared precisely to the energy sector. 

The official will be replaced by Salta Mining and Energy provincial secretary Flavia Royón, the government confirmed.

"I’m eternally grateful to @alferdez and @CFKArgentina for entrusting me with the post of national Energy secretary, a task I carried out with pride and commitment," wrote Martínez in Twitter.

"It was an honour to have formed part of the Frente de Todos government which they head and to represent the movement in Neuquén to which I have belonged ever since I became politically aware," he added.

Martínez also expressed his "best wishes and all my support" to Sergio Massa: "I know his managerial capacity and commitment. We are united by a great bond in both having been comrades in Congress and he can always count on my permanent collaboration."

Minutes beforehand, Massa had communicated via Twitter Royón’s entry as Energy Secretary with Santiago Yanotti as undersecretary for Electrical Energy, Federico Bernal continuing as undersecretary for Fossil Fuels and Cecilia Garibotti as Planning undersecretary.

"I wish to thank the work of Darío Martínez, [former electricity secretary] Federico Basualdo and the team which until now has carried out the work in @Energia_AR. Energy sovereignty and the transformation of Argentina into a power in this sector is the aim of us all,” added Massa.

Massa’s arrival as a minister pooling the Economy, Agriculture and Production portfolios detonated various changes in government but until this week energy, one of the most questioned areas which had triggered much tension as a sector controlled by Kirchnerism, had stood firm – especially a hot spot when previous minister Martín Guzmán wanted to throw out Basualdo as Electrical Energy secretary but could not pull it off due to Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s support.

As the new economic czar, Massa announced on August 3 a change in the mechanism for implementing subsidy cutbacks and after days of rumours the Energy Secretary’s exit was finally confirmed.

The new appointments help Massa gain a stronger foothold ahead of a  gains ground with the move ahead of talks with the International Monetary Fund towards the end of the month.

According to reports, the new minister will visit Washington DC on August 29 to 31 for meetings with the Fund, the authorities of the US Treasury Department, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank.

Afterwards, he will visit New York for a meeting with executives and investors, seeking to reassure them of Argentina’s prospects.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva this week congratulated Massa on his appointment and “increased responsibilities” in a letter to the new minister.

“My colleagues and I were pleased to have worked constructively with your predecessors and their teams. I look forward to continuing to deepen that relationship to support the implementation of your government's economic programme, backed by the Fund's extended financing arrangement,” she wrote. 

Government officials believe the portfolio is now “back on track" with the Fund’s staff, which must prepare a new report for the IMF Board ahead of the next US$4-billion disbursement from Argentina’s US$44.5-billion Extended Fund Facility deal falls due.

Who is Darío Martínez?

Born in Ingeniero Huergo (Río Negro) and studying accountancy at the Universidad Nacional del Comahue (without graduating), Martínez, 45, left the Energy Committee chairmanship in Congress to replace Sergio Lanziani when he was dumped as Energy secretary in March, 2020.

Martínez ran for lieutenant-governor on the ticket of Unidad Ciudadana, the party of ex-president Cristina Kirchner before forming Frente de Todos, in March, 2019 provincial elections finally won by Omar Gutiérrez of the Movimiento Popular Neuquino.


Who is Flavia Royón?

Flavia Royón, Salta’s Mining and Energy secretary until now apart from chairing the Economic and Social Council of that province, is the replacement found by Economy Minister Sergio Massa following the resignation of Energy Secretary Darío Martínez.

Graduating in industrial engineering from the National University of Salta with an MBA in IAE Business School and a diploma in Integral Mining Management from the Catholic University in Salta, Royón has vast professional experience in the private productive sector with exports, logistics and supply chains.

Until appointed Salta’s Energy secretary, Royón was Executive Director of the Investment Financing and Promotion Department of Salta’s Production Ministry and president of the Economic and Social Council.

The official was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Salta Industrial Union, chairing the province’s Chamber of Foreign Commerce and participating in the development of the programmes for economic growth and government centres in the Austral University’s School for Public Policies.

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