Macri’s Reform Agenda Advances in Argentina’s Congress
November 9, 2017
On 8 November Argentina’s federal chamber of deputies approved the ‘corporate criminal liability law’ bill promoted by the government led by President Mauricio Macri.
Significance: The approved bill forms part of the wider economic and political reform package that President Macri said his government will seek to implement following the victory of the centre-right ruling Cambiemos coalition in the 22 October mid-term federal legislative elections. Macri maintains that the reforms are crucial for ensuring Argentina’s future economic development and growth. The approval of this first reform initiative by the lower chamber of congress, which is still controlled by the political opposition, is a positive sign for the Macri administration in what could still prove to be an uphill battle.
- The corporate liability law bill was drafted by the government’s anti-corruption office (OA). It seeks to make legal persons (such as limited liability firms, foundations, and civil associations) liable to being sanctioned for crimes of corruption, the defrauding of the state, and transnational crimes (Argentina’s current legislation only makes physical persons liable for such crimes). The introduction of the bill is one of the prerequisites made by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ahead of the Macri government’s plan to apply for OECD membership.
- The bill was first presented to congress in October 2016 and a version of it was approved by the senate, but it then became stuck in the lower chamber amid staunch resistance to it from opposition legislators. However, in a special session called yesterday to discuss the bill and other government reform initiatives, it secured the necessary votes for approval. A modified version of the bill was approved with 141 votes in favour, six against and 31 abstentions in the 257-seat chamber. A majority of deputies from the main opposition Partido Justicialista (PJ, Peronists) voted in favour of the bill along with the Cambiemos bench (only hard-line Peronist deputies decided to abstain). The approved version of the corporate liability law bill now passes to the senate for review.
- Meanwhile in the senate, the upper chamber’s justice commission formally began debating the government’s proposed reforms to the public ministry. These reforms aim to overhaul the public ministry and make it more accountable by restructuring it and setting definitive term limits for the posts of attorney general and ombudsman (who currently can serve until they reach retirement age). This is another initiative that has previously been rejected by the opposition, but now it appears to be more amenable to it.
Looking Ahead: President Macri is due to return to Argentina from his official visit to the US today (9 November) to attend a scheduled meeting with the 23 provincial governors to discuss his tax reform proposals. The president will be hoping that, like in congress, he can start building a consensus over this with the governors, who until now have been reluctant to accept the plans to significantly reduce provincial tax burdens.
This feature was provided to EMIA by our editorial partner LatinNews.