June 23, 2020 / 8:47 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Algeria names new energy and finance ministers -state TV

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ALGIERS, June 23 (Reuters) - Algeria named new energy and finance ministers on Tuesday, following a big fall in revenue for the major oil and gas producer after years of budget deficits.

Abdelmadjid Attar, a former chief executive of state oil company Sonatrach, is the new energy minister, while Central Bank Governor Ayman Benabderrahmane becomes finance minister, state television reported.

The partial cabinet reshuffle comes just six months after the new government was formed, at a time of major political upheaval for Algeria as mass protests forced the veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power.

Already suffering years of lower income due to oil prices slumping in 2014, higher domestic consumption and more competition for its gas in Europe, Algeria has now been hit by a new fall in the energy market caused by the global pandemic.

Last year it passed laws to try to attract more investment in the energy sector in order to arrest a decline in production capacity in its aging fields, and to encourage more foreign involvement in the wider economy.

However, reforms intended to strengthen the private sector over the past decade helped spur the corruption that was a big driver of last year’s street protests, and any new cuts in public spending could foster more discontent.

Algeria has burned through more than half its foreign currency reserves since 2014 but it still has very little public debt.

The former energy minister, Mohamed Arkab, was named minister for mines, state television reported. (Reporting by Lamine Chikhi and Hamid Ould Ahmed in Algiers Writing by Angus McDowall Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Matthew Lewis)

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