SAO PAULO/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian Finance Minister Joaquim Levy mildly criticized President Dilma Rousseff, saying she does not always act in “the most effective way,” in remarks at a time when investors are watching for signs of tension between the two philosophically different leaders.
Levy made the comment on Tuesday at a closed-door event in Sao Paulo with former students from his alma mater, the University of Chicago, according to newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, which reported his remarks and posted audio.
The leftist Rousseff in January appointed Levy, a former banker who is much more orthodox than she is on economic issues, to oversee a significant pro-market shift to restore investor confidence in the struggling economy.
“I think that there is a genuine desire by the president to get things right, sometimes not the easiest way, but ... not the most effective way, but there is this genuine desire,” Levy said, speaking in English, according to Folha.
The finance ministry issued a statement saying that Levy “regretted the interpretation of his phrase ...”
The ministry said the statement was “not an official note, but a personal manifestation of the minister.”
“Those who have the honor to find themselves ministers know that the government’s political orientation is genuine,” the statement said. “They recognize that the carrying out of their duties requires difficult actions, including those of her Excellency President Dilma Rousseff, and they have the humility to recognize that not all measures taken have the hoped-for effect.
The political partnership has been fruitful so far, with Rousseff giving Levy additional responsibilities including some negotiations with Congress, sources told Reuters earlier this month.
Investors say are closely monitoring their comments for any signs that their significant philosophical differences might eventually drive them apart.
Earlier this year, Levy called tax cuts Rousseff made during her first term a costly “stunt.” Rousseff later publicly called his comment “unfortunate.”
Reporting by Brian Winter and Flavia Bohone in Sao Paulo and Jeb Blount in Rio de Janeiro