Peruvian finance minister says there is ultimately no question of nationalizing the gas sector

LIMA, October 27 (Reuters) – Peru’s finance minister said on Wednesday that the country’s left-wing government has no plans to take over the natural gas industry, in a bid to allay fears after the president Pedro Castillo spoke about nationalization earlier in the week.

“Nationalizing the gas (sector) means putting it at the service of all Peruvians,” Finance Minister Pedro Francke said in a tweet. “It is by no means a question of nationalizing private enterprise.

Castillo had urged Congress on Monday to draft a bill to nationalize the country’s gas sector. While the opposition-led legislature is unlikely to follow the demand, Castillo’s remarks contradict previous claims that his administration is not seeking to nationalize parts of the economy.

Peru, the world’s second largest producer of copper, has a major gas operation managed by the Camisea consortium, led by Argentinian Pluspetrol, with smaller stakes held by the South Korean group SK, Hunt Oil and Repsol SA.

Castillo, a member of a Marxist-Leninist party, scared markets and investors alike, causing Peruvian sol currency to fall to record levels since taking office in July.

Earlier this month, Castillo replaced his prime minister, who had also threatened to nationalize the gas industry. Analysts interpreted the move as a way to moderate the administration’s economic position.

Mirtha Vasquez, the new prime minister, has pledged to seek economic stability and is waiting for Congress to vote to confirm her candidacy and that of her cabinet. The vote is scheduled for next week (Report by Marco Aquino Editing by Paul Simao)

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