Monday, March 20, 2023

ARGENTINA | 26-02-2020 13:41

Alberto Fernández looks to relaunch term in speech to Congress

President expected to discuss IMF support, abortion, and judicial reform in his upcoming speech to lawmakers, which will mark opening of congressional sessions.

Optimism is abounding in the halls of the Casa Rosada, after what some officials are characterising as Alberto Fernández’s best week since he took office.  

The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) letter of support for Argentina, in the middle of delicate debt restructuring talks was a breath of fresh air for many officials, whose terms have been defined by uncertainty over whether a deal would be reached between the government and bondholders.

The IMF’s support, according to sources in the Casa Rosada, highlights the importance of the Peronist’s leader’s recent European tour, which, at the time, was overshadowed by the "political prisoner" debate that engulfed his Frente de Todos coalition.

Economic variables and indicators have also sparked optimism among those close to the president, despite the difficult economic situation. Among them was the fall in inflation registered in January, which came in at 2.3 percent. A similar figure is anticipated this month. 

The distribution of the Alimentar food-stamp card was another key step for the Fernández administration too. Officials have finished distributing them in the Buenos Aires Province, and they estimate that by March, 1.4 million cards will have been delivered to families in need.

"Next month we will have a first analysis of the card in the most hardest-hit areas and we believe they will have a direct impact on the real economy," one official told Perfil.

This weekend the Frente de Todos leader started work on the fine print of his speech to open Congressional ordinary sessions, which takes place next Sunday at 11.30am. Fernández's Cabinet Chief, Santiago Cafeiro, and Secretary of Strategic Affairs, Gustavo Beliz, are preparing a draft, which they will then share with ministers and intellectuals who advise the president.

Fernández hopes that – just as with the December 10 speech that marked his inauguration – this weekend's speech will set a foundational tone for his presidency. He plans to strike an optimistic tone, while reviewing the economic inheritance left behind by the Mauricio Macri administration and explaining where Argentina's debt burden comes from – one of the main battle-horses of his coalition's presidential campaign.

Updates are also expected on two issues announced in that speech two months ago: abortion reform (which comes on the heels of Wednesday's massive green pañuelazo demonstration), and judicial reform.


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