Ex-cabinet chief and investment banker Pedro-Pablo Kuczynski (pictured) lost little time after the final election vote count made him Peru's president-elect on Thursday, naming key officials for his future government and pledging to work with the opposition.

The 77-year-old Kuczynski, who narrowly defeated former congresswoman Keiko Fujimori, said his chief economic advisor Alfredo Thorne will be his finance minister, while seeking the continuity of current central bank president Julio Velarde and education minister Jaime Saavedra.

"We have to look for the best people in Peru. I'm a technocrat and have to be surrounded by good people," Kuczynski told reporters in Lima. "We're going to talk to those who backed us and our rivals who control congress; secondly name a cabinet; and thirdly the job of preparing the perspective that is needed – microenterprise, water, security, pensions, health and education."

Kuczynski ruled out the privatization of state water company Sedapal and added he would comply with a campaign pledge to raise state teachers' salaries. He added his first trip abroad would be to China in November for the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (Apec) summit.

Fujimori, whose Fuerza Popular party will control the 130-member congress with 73 seats, on Friday conceded defeat after the leaders of Spain, Chile, Colombia and Argentina congratulated Kuczynski on his election victory.

"We will be a responsible opposition that always thinks of the country's future," Fujimori said at a press conference in Lima. "We will keep an eye on the incoming government and defend the people from the power of lobbies and major companies."

The Kuczynski government's main challenge will be to extend the benefits of economic growth to the country's 30mn people, a third of whom live in extreme poverty, Thorne said.

His team will complete a package of reforms to be negotiated with the opposition by the end of the month, while the next government will work to formalize the informal sector and reduce the country's fiscal deficit, currently equivalent to 3% of GDP, he added. If a proposal to reactivate the economy by slashing an 18% VAT to 15% does not work, it will be scrapped, he said.

Peru, the world's third largest copper, zinc and tin producer and a major producer of natural gas, fishmeal and coffee, is struggling to jump-start its economy in the face of slumping commodities prices.

"What both we and Fuerza Popular want is to solve Peruvians' problems," Thorne told Lima-based Radioprogramas. "What we have to do is to look for convergences, negotiate, agree and progress. We are more than willing to do this."


Born October 3, 1938 in Lima, Kuczynski, the son of a doctor of German-Polish descent and a French-Swiss mother, grew up in the Amazon jungle while his father sought to cure a local strain of leprosy.

Educated at Oxford and Princeton universities, Kuczynski holds a master's degree in economics, which led to a post as president of Peru's central bank in 1966 under then president Fernando Belaúnde. Kuczynski left for the US following a military coup in 1968, returning to Peru in 1980 to head the energy and mines ministry (MEM) in Belaúnde's second government.

Kuczynski, who also holds a US passport, has worked most of his career abroad, serving at mining, gas and electricity companies in addition to heading CS First Boston and managing several private equity funds.

He returned to government under Alejandro Toledo in 2001, serving first as finance minister and then cabinet chief, before launching his own presidential candidacy in the 2011 elections, when he lost to Fujimori and Ollanta Humala.

A Royal College of Music-trained flautist who performs with orchestras every year, Kuczynski also runs the NGO Agua Limpia, which lines up financing for water projects in rural areas of Peru.

His closest advisors, meanwhile, have played down concerns that Kuczynski's age might affect his presidency. 

"He's in very good shape," Kuczynski's running mate Martín Vizcarra told BNamericas on the sidelines of a press conference last month. "He's one of the most lucid people I know."


Source: BNamericas