Reuters International

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - The Slovenian parliament voted 50-21 on Wednesday to confirm Mateja Vranicar Erman as the southeastern EU member state's first female finance minister, the parliamentary speaker said.

Erman, previously state secretary at the finance ministry, succeeds Dusan Mramor who resigned in July citing personal reasons. She has pledged to continue a drive for public finance consolidation and support "carefully considered" privatisation.

Presenting her programme to parliament earlier this month, Erman said she aimed to cut the budget deficit by 0.6 percent of GDP per year and debt by about 480 million euros ($535.73 million) annually from some 32 billion euros at present.

Her plans echo the previous government's target of bringing the budget deficit to zero by the end of 2020.

Erman, 50, also hopes to improve the management of state firms and focus budget spending on areas that would spur higher economic growth.

She is a legal expert and has worked at the finance ministry since 1993. She is not politically affiliated but was proposed by Prime Minister Miro Cerar's Party of Modern Centre.

Slovenia narrowly avoided an international bailout for its banks in 2013 and managed to return to growth in 2014. It expects the economy to expand by about 2.7 percent this year from 2.3 percent in 2015.

Last year Slovenia managed to reduce the budget deficit to below 3 percent of GDP - the ceiling for euro zone members - after running higher shortfalls for six years. The deficit is expected to be about 2.2 percent of GDP this year.

(Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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