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Argentine finance minister asked to step down as ministry reorganized

BUENOS AIRES Argentina’s government has asked Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay to step down, cabinet chief Marcos Pena said on Monday, marking the first major departure in President Mauricio Macri’s Cabinet since he took office a year ago.

As part of the move, the Finance Ministry will be split in two, with the treasury division led by economist Nicolas Dujovne and the finance division led by current finance secretary Luis Caputo, who has reported to Prat-Gay.

Prat-Gay was instrumental in lifting Argentina’s currency controls and negotiating a deal with holdout creditors over debt that Argentina defaulted on in 2002, two of the center-right Macri administration’s main achievements after taking office last December, ending more than a decade of populist rule.

Rumors about Prat-Gay’s future had swirled in recent weeks after an income tax proposal crucial to the government’s deficit reduction targets failed in Congress, forcing the government to renegotiate a new deal with the opposition.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Bill Trott and Leslie Adler)