Buenos Aires Times

argentina GOVERNMENT REFORM AGENDA

Macri calls on business, unions to back reform plans in keynote speech

Protesters attempt to get as close as possible to the CCK, as president seeks to win over businesses and union leaders.

Tuesday 31 October, 2017
President Mauricio Macri, pictured at the Kirchner Cultural Centre on Monday.
President Mauricio Macri, pictured at the Kirchner Cultural Centre on Monday. Foto:AP-Natalie Pisachenko

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President Mauricio Macri called on business and union leaders to put aside their differences and back his government's planned economic and social reforms in a keynote speech Monday.

Macri pledged his government would maintain "austerity and order in the public accounts," as well as favour employment, reduce taxes, lower inflation, punish corruption and strengthen the country’s institutions.

"I call on you to achieve basic consensus to draw a roadmap that gives us stability, and deliver a more just and integrated Argentina," he said, addressing an audience of 170 mostly politicians, business executives and union leaders in the capital, at the Kirchner Cultural Centre.

"We are entering a state of permanent ‘reformism,’” he added.

However, the 68-year-old head of state gave no details of how his government planned to carry out its programme.

Instead, Macri merely said, "We have concrete proposals that we will give in the coming months."

Meanwhile, influential ratings agency S&P raised Argentina's long-term ratings to "B+" on expected economic improvement and said the outlook was stable.

"We expect that higher investment and better predictability in economic policies will sustain moderate but stable economic growth in the next three years," it said.

S&P added that the stable outlook reflected expectations that Macri's government "will have greater political capacity to continue pursuing its economic agendas."

Macri's Cambiemos, or "Let's Change," coalition emerged from midterm elections last week with a strengthened mandate for its reform programme – but still fell short of an overall majority in Congress, where it depends on alliances to pass laws.

The three axes of the reforms, according to Macri, will be "fiscal responsibility, creating more employment and institutional quality." 

The speech came as International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials gathered in Buenos Aires to begin a review of the economy, having already recommended that Macri make adjustments to taxation.

Argentina's inflation is currently running at 18 percent, confounding Central Bank efforts to maintain it between 12 and 17 percent this year.

Unions protested against the government's programme in the streets surrounding the Kirchner Cultural Centre where Macri was speaking.

Protesters demanded that the government pass an "economic emergency" law that would release increased subsidies to unprotected sectors.

Protest leader Juan Grabois said workers were being excluded from the country's "very biased debate" on the economy.

"We want state policies. But at no time should the basic rights of workers be punctured," one of the leaders of the main CGT union, Hector Daer, told a press conference.

- AFP

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