Argentine gov’t calls for extra time to advance economic reforms
December 11, 2017
On 10 December Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri issued a decree calling on the federal congress to hold extraordinary sessions from 11-31 December to discuss a raft of legislative initiatives including his government's proposed economic reforms.
Significance: The move by Macri is an attempt to take full advantage of the increased presence of the ruling Cambiemos coalition and the decreased presence of hard-line opposition members in the newly-elected federal congress to expedite the congressional approval of his proposed structural economic reforms. However, some of these reforms such as the labour, tax, and pension reforms are strongly resisted by local workers’ unions and other leftist political organisations, which have launched a protest campaign against the reforms. The government’s efforts to push its proposed reforms through congress before the end of the year could lead to public unrest should those opposed to the reforms intensify their protests.
The presidential decree 1014/2017 was signed by Macri yesterday and is expected to be published in the official gazette today (11 December) so that it can come into immediate effect. Given the new composition of congress it is expected that it will be accepted by the legislature. This means that federal legislators will have to hold the pending debates on some of the economic reforms before the end of the year, opening the possibility that some of these may even be approved.
The move by Macri came despite the fact that the unions and leftist political organisations staged another large protest march in Argentina’s capital yesterday. The march was held to coincide with the start of the IX ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that is being held in Buenos Aires until 13 December, and which was opened by President Macri. The march produced some disruption in central Buenos Aires, but it did not descend into violence as the government had feared, concerned that this could tarnish the start of WTO conference.
Looking Ahead: During a televised interview with international media broadcast yesterday, President Macri defended his government’s proposed economic reforms insisting that these would help to bring Argentina into the XXI century and help promote its future economic development. Macri argued that Argentina’s current economic and fiscal model is “unsustainable” and that only through the introduction of reforms could the country return to the path of sustainable long-term economic growth. However, it is unclear if Macri’s arguments will convince the opponents of the reforms, who may seek to step up their protest campaign this week.
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