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ARGENTINA | 08-07-2024 17:19

Sturzenegger preparing laws to slash bureaucracy and ‘obsolete’ regulations

New Deregulation & State Transformation Minister Federico Sturzenegger outlines his objectives for his new portfolio and says he will send Congress a ‘leaf litter law’ that will slash government regulations.

New government minister Federico Sturzenegger is preparing a massive overhaul of Argentina’s existing laws in a bid to remove “obsolete” rules that “endanger liberty.”

Sturzenegger, 58, was sworn-in last Friday by President Javier Milei as the government’s new ‘Deregulation & State Transformation’ Minister, heading a new portfolio tasked with overhauling legislation and removing bureaucracy.

Efforts to launch an extensive legislative agenda are underway, with the new official vowing to send Congress a new bill dubbed the “leaf litter” law, or ‘Ley hojarasca.’

Sturzenegger was one of the architects of Milei’s flagship ‘Ley de Bases’ reform bill, which was recently signed into law, and wrote much of the budget-slashing emergency decree issued by the President upon taking office last December. 

The veteran economist is expected to exploit the changes introduced by the ‘Ley de Bases’ and accompanying fiscal package to begin eliminating “obsolete” regulations from the statute book.

In a series of posts on social media over the past week, Sturzenegger has laid out his goals for the coming months. 

“The President told me that the Ministry should work on two core issues: going deep into the process of economic freedom and helping in the implementation of State reform authorised by the ‘Ley de Bases,’” wrote the economist, who served for two years as governor of Argentina’s Central Bank during former president Mauricio Macri’s government (2015-2019). 

“The initiatives of Emergency Decree 70/23 and the ‘Ley de Bases’ are only a small part of the liberalisation agenda the government had prepared. In the meantime, [President Milei] stated that those Leaf Litter laws ‘pose risks to economic liberty, hindrances, or are simply obsolete (such as those regulating pigeon racing, imposing impossible formalities or promoting pollution).”

Sturzenegger cited, among others, the much-criticised Rent Law that sets conditions for the real-estate rental market, stating it is ripe for reform.

“The best example of the benefits of economic freedom is the repeal of this law which caused an increase in the supply of properties and a 40-percent fall in the real value of rent. Let’s imagine this in other sectors,” argued the new minister.

Milei’s La Libertad Avanza party is a minority in both chambers of Congress and has had to negotiate and slim down its legislative proposals in order to secure their passage. Sturzenegger indicated that previous reforms that were put aside in order to win approval of the President’s mega-reform package would now be revisited.

“The legislative agenda will continue later with aspects of the original ‘Ley de Bases’ which were set aside, in addition to the other proposals. We expect a rich parliamentary debate as is fitting for this vibrant democracy we’re living in,” he said.


‘Second agenda’

The head of the new Deregulation & State Transformation portfolio indicated that he would push ahead with “regulatory” reforms, namely the removal of decrees, rules and resolutions which he claimed “only hinder production.”

Highlighting Milei’s proximity to business leaders, Sturzenegger said: “We will need plenty of help from the private sector to identify these hidden costs and be able to help eliminate them.”

The national official said his deregulation objectives were designed to “eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy.”

Argentina’s aviation market, he hinted, would be one of the first areas targeted. Low-cost airlines moved heavily into national territory during the Macri administration, but the number of private operators shrank during the 2019-2023 government of former president Alberto Fernández. 

Notably, Sturzenegger also said that changes would be made to the public sector, stating that he would like to introduce an “entrance exam” for state employees. The proposal, portrayed as an attempt to “professionalise the civil service,” received immediate pushback from the ATE state workers’ union, which said it “already exists by law” but was not implemented.

Milei has laid off tens of thousands of state employees since taking office, mostly through the non-renewal of contracted staff.

Sturzenegger also named some of the team that will accompany him at the Deregulation & State Transformation Ministry. 

Lawyer Marcelo Hernández, who Sturzenegger said had worked with him to review “obsolete laws” will join the team, as will Alejandro Tamer, the co-founder of travel website Despegar.com.

He also added international trade specialist Maximiliano Fariña, as state transformation secretary, and vice-chancellor of the Universidad de San Andrés, Martín Rossi, who will be deregulation secretary.

 

– TIMES/PERFIL
 

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