* Correa won re-election in February with 57 percent of vote
* New cabinet not expected to herald policy changes
QUITO May 8 Ecuadorean President Rafael
appointed a new oil minister and a new finance minister on
Wednesday, as the socialist leader unveiled a new cabinet for
his third term in office.
Correa, a member of an alliance of left-wing Latin American
presidents, won re-election in February with about 57 percent of
the vote. His inauguration ceremony is scheduled for May 24.
"We have to be very critical with ourselves and
revolutionize the revolution," said Correa at the presidential
palace, as he encouraged his new cabinet to deepen the socialist
policies that his government has been implementing since he
first took office in 2007.
Oil Minister Wilson Pastor has been replaced by Pedro
Merizalde, head of the Pacifico refinery project.
Correa named Fausto Herrera as finance minister, replacing
Patricio Rivera, who has been appointed minister for economic
policy, and will oversee the work of the finance ministry, the
central bank and the tax office.
Herrera has served as deputy finance minister since October
2012, and was in charge of securing financing for state spending
and administering the national budget.
Correa named nine new ministers in total, including those
responsible for culture, Production and education. Some of the
cabinet changes had already been announced by a high-ranking
government official on April 30.
Correa has won broad support from the country's low-income
majority with heavy spending on welfare, health, education and
But the U.S.-trained economist has irked investors by using
anti-capitalist rhetoric, defaulting on $3.2 billion of debt,
making oil companies sign less-profitable service contracts and
pushing through a new constitution that gave him more power.
Correa is expected to continue spending heavily on the poor
and implementing policies to give the state more control over
The new cabinet is not expected to usher in policy changes,
because most of the new ministers already work for the
government or are members of the ruling Alianza Pais party.
Merizalde will be expected to attract more foreign
investment, since oil companies have failed to carry out new
exploration projects since 2010, when they were required to sign
service contracts. The country's oil output has been stuck at
500,000 barrels per day since then.
The smallest member of OPEC is now trying to lure investors
to several projects.
It needs to secure financing for its ambitious $12.5 billion
Pacifico oil refinery - a joint venture between state-run PDVSA
of Venezuela and Petroecuador - so that it can come online in
2016, as scheduled.
The country also hopes to attract around $1 billion in
investments for 16 oil blocks in its Amazon region, even though
indigenous groups oppose oil exploration on their lands.
Ecuador is also negotiating a contract that would allow
Canada's Kinross to develop a $1.2 billion gold-mining