Argentina’s Senate will this Wednesday vote on an opposition bill to freeze future price increases on consumer utility services and wind-back rates to November 2017 levels.
President Mauricio Macri has already confirmed he will veto the law, which his government says will jeopardise its attempts to cut the fiscal deficit.
The opposition has rallied around the idea of a price freeze, citing the rising cost of living in Argentina.
Peronist parties say they the numbers to pass the bill, though a small group of dissident Peronists responding to their respective provinces’ governors are believed to remain on the fence.
On Monday, Macri addressed the country via a pre-recorded voice-message alongside Production Minister Francisco Cabrera.
He took aim at the opposition, stirring up old tensions by pointing the finger at former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
“The magical laws that seek to lower utility prices to December 2017 rates sound great, but where will they (the opposition) get the money (to fund the changes)?” Macri pondered, levelling responsibility for any economic consequences caused by the law on his Peronist foes in Congress.
“I asked Peronist senators and governors that they refrain from getting carried away by the crazy ideas of Cristina (Fernández de Kirchner)”, he added.
The comments are rumoured to have been met with humour within Peronists ranks as a political misstep on the part of Macri, since Senator Fernández de Kirchner is not believed to have played any significant role in the preparation of the bill, though she will vote in favour.
Unions say they will call a national strike if the President vetos the law.
“Each party has to give up something so everybody wins. We will take charge of building roads and eliminating corruption. While the debate about utilities went on in Congress, consumption grew eight percent. We need to adopt simpler habits,” the President said in his address, insisting consumers should make decisions like switching to LED lightbulbs.
At the same time he promised to “deal with companies and distributors so that they invest like they have been since last year and so that they properly measure consumption instead of charging consumers more (than they should be charged)”.