UPDATE 4-Colombian president names two to central bank board
* Ana Fernanda Maiguashca, Adolfo Meisel named to bank's board * New members will not participate in Friday policy meeting * Experts see the two as more inclined toward rate cuts By Helen Murphy and Luis Jaime Acosta BOGOTA, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday named deputy finance minister Ana Fernanda Maiguashca and central bank economist Adolfo Meisel to replace two outgoing members of the bank's board of directors. Colombian monetary policy may lean more toward expansion after Santos picked two economists seen as having softer views on the impact of inflation on the economy and so may be more inclined to lower the benchmark interest rate. The new board members cannot participate as co-directors in Friday's monetary policy meeting because a decree needs to be issued and they need to be sworn in. The board can vote on interest rates with five members. "The new members are likely to remain aligned with the more dovish side of the bank's board led by Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas, allowing the government some additional capacity to influence monetary policy," Barclays Capital said in a research note to investors. Maiguashca, 38, a graduate of Columbia University in New York, would be the first woman on the panel since 1991. Until her new posting she was a vice finance minister.Meisel, 59, is head of the central bank's branch in the coastal city of Cartagena and has a doctorate in economics from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign."Maiguashca is one of the greatest experts in the country on financial regulation and supervision. Adolfo Meisel has devoted a lifetime to the study of the problems of the Caribbean coast," Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas said in a message on Twitter. Policymakers are named to the board for a period of four years that can be renewed twice by the government. While the youthful Maiguashca was identified by Reuters sources as "very probably" a new member, Meisel's choice surprised the market as he had not been considered a possibility - experts see both members as more inclined toward rate cuts. The board has cut the key lending rate in the last three policy meetings, taking it to 4 percent in the longest easing cycle since 2009. Economists expect another quarter-point reduction on Friday. With inflation at a three-year low, some board members called last month for further expansion after slashing 125 basis points since July of last year. Santos's appointments replace Fernando Tenjo and Juan Jose Echavarria whose terms have expired. The new board will face the task of stimulating a slowing economy while controlling inflation and preventing a strong currency from damaging manufacturing and exports. The central bank has been independent under the constitution for 21 years, when it was given the primary task of constraining consumer prices and setting targets. By giving the president's office just three seats, including the finance minister, the board's autonomy is assured. While the panel, headed by orthodox economist Jose Dario Uribe, has mostly ignored pressure from successive governments, Santos will get another chance to pick two seats if he is reelected in 2014, bringing to five his appointees on the board. In addition to Maiguashca, Meisel, Uribe and Cardenas, the board currently includes Carlos Gustavo Cano, Juan Pablo Zarate and Cesar Vallejo.
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