Ex-central banker to prepare Brazil for Olympics

BRASILIA, March 14 Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:38pm EDT

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BRASILIA, March 14 (Reuters) - Brazil's former central bank chief Henrique Meirelles was appointed on Monday as the top official to prepare for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, hosted for the first time in South America.

Meirelles, who helped oversee Brazil's biggest economic expansion in decades, will now coordinate government policies and public works projects for the games in Rio de Janeiro.

After meeting with President Dilma Rousseff earlier on Monday, Meirelles said he had accepted the nomination.

As head of the Olympic Public Authority, Meirelles will have a staff of roughly 170 and manage a multibillion dollar budget. But like many other officials in Brazil he too may face a challenge in overcoming mountains of red tape.

Critics say Brazil is already behind schedule in preparing for the soccer World Cup, which it will host in 2014.

Meirelles became Brazil's longest-serving central bank chief during the Presidency of Rousseff's predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The Senate is likely to approve his nomination in the coming weeks. (Reporting by Jeferson Ribeiro; Writing by Raymond Colitt Editing by Alonso Soto and Todd Eastham)

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