Simón Gaviria Muñoz has stepped down from the National Planning Department (DNP) and has been replaced by agency deputy director Luis Fernando Mejía, effective immediately, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced this morning.
During his time atop the DNP, Gaviria oversaw more than the target number of 7,000 projects, according to the office of the president. He also entered the agency with some 8,500 projects designated as troubled and cut that number down to just 500 today, per the president. “What Simón has done in these two and a half years is strengthen national planning,” said Santos in public comments.
Gaviria’s reasons for resigning were not revealed by Santos. According to Blu Radio in Colombia, Gaviria has “privately said he has no desire” to run for president in 2018 despite media speculation about that possibility. The outlet says that he may pursue an educational opportunity at Harvard University in the United States.
Photo: Luis Fernando Mejía, an economist, had been serving as deputy director of DNP and joined the agency in September 2012. (Credit: Presidencia de la República)
As for the new director, Santos, via Twitter, called Mejiá “a brilliant economist who will be able to consolidate policies for equality and close social gaps.” In his public comments, Santos also praised Gaviria for “choosing the best people” when he elevated Mejía within the DNP and said that the agency will benefit from the continuity of having its new director come from within the organization.
Gaviria, on Twitter, congratulated Mejía and wished success to the new director, who he called a “great teammate.”
The new director has previously worked to develop macroeconomic policy in a high-level position at the Ministry of Finance and served as a researcher at both Colombia’s central bank and the regional Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Mejiá, born in 1978, completed an economics Ph.D. program at the prestigious University of Chicago after being selected for a fellowship under the institution’s Margaret G. Reid Memorial Fund, which the university uses “to support research by graduate students investigating aspects of consumption and expenditures of consumer units that are stratified by size and composition and differ in areas of residence and of time.”
He has also been has been professor of macroeconomics and international finance at University of Chicago as well as both University of the Andes and Javeriana University in Bogotá.