Monday, February 26, 2024

ARGENTINA | 18-04-2020 09:28

Government deputies push for online sessions and wealth tax

Government deputies in Congress are working on a bill for a one-off wealth tax on big fortunes to finance the sanitary and social campaign against the new coronavirus pandemic.

The tax will apply “to around 200 people and some 200 companies with the biggest invoicing,” Frente de Todos lawmaker Hugo Yasky told Radio Con Vos.

“We hope to raise US$ 2.5 billion,” said the union leader, who has led the Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina (CTA) since 2006.

Argentina was already suffering a two-year recession before the virus crisis arrived. The economy’s immediate outlook is compounded by the semi-paralysis of the country amid the health crisis, with a sharp fall in fiscal revenues anticipated.

President Alberto Fernández is pushing through a stimulus programme of state investments to the tune of 550 billion pesos (US$8 billion at the current exchange rate).

Some 12 million people have registered for the emergency family income (IFE, in its Spanish acronym) of 10,000 pesos (US$150), of whom almost eight million qualified. Over 220,000 companies are claiming financial relief to stave off bankruptcy, according to the government.

The funds will be used “for sanitary inputs or food for the most vulnerable sectors,” Budget Committee chairman Carlos Heller, a government deputy, said in a press communiqué.


The government’s dilemma is how Congress can session if they cannot attend and comply with the quarantine. Some lawmakers have called for online sessions to be held, though some have argued such meetings would be unconstitutional.

“If we need to session, we’ll have to see how we can do it remotely,” government deputy Darío Martínez told Radio El Destape.

On Tuesday, Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner asked the Supreme Court to validate online sessions, making a presentation to that end. The court has been asked to rule on Article 30 of Senate regulations, that say senators must be in the room for sessions, “except in cases of institutional gravity.”

However, Perfil reported Friday that at least one attempt at a trial run at an online session had to be cancelled amid technical problems with a Cisco Webex server. Commonly used video conference apps like Zoom have been ruled out as options over security fears.

Opposition lawmakers have suggested that sessions could be held away from the Senate at a larger location, where social distancing rules could be observed. The Kirchner Cultural Centre (CCK) and the Teatro Colón have been floated as options.

“The session on Thursday crashed. Imagine if something like that happens with 257 deputies. You have to vote in general and, in particular, on articles,” one unnamed Juntos por el Cambio lawmaker told Perfil’s Ramon Indart on Thursday.

“We have to be present,” said the source, speaking anonymously. “We can do it with minimal personnel so the employees do not take risks.”


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