The provincial backlash
against President Mauricio
Macri’s post-PASO economic measures came to a head
this week when governors across the
entire opposition spectrum assembled at the Federal Investments Council on Wednesday to issue a stern statement, claiming that the tax cuts
would jeopardise the payment of salaries at the end of this month.
The governors were at pains to
stress that they did not question
the relief measures as such –
many of them have been repeatedly demanded by opposition legislators in Congress in recent
years – but rather the “unilateral”
and “arbitrary” way in which they
had been funded without offering
the provinces any compensation.
The statement, signed by 19 out
of 24 governors, described the
moves as “harmful” to their regional finances.
The opposition governors argued that the measures were unconstitutional, not only because
they expropriated provincial revenues for national ends but also because the tax changes had not been
run through Congress while lying
outside both the 2019 Budget and
the Fiscal Pact.
“We are in grave danger of not
being able to meet our current expenses, the fulfillment of wage
obligations, the provision of essential services and the preservation
of social peace in each of the states
we represent,” the text read.
That same day the oil-producing
provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro
and La Pampa went to the Supreme
Court to argue that the emergency
decree freezing fuel prices for 90
days (also in the package) was
likewise unconstitutional, joined
the next day by Santa Cruz.
huddle included not only Peronist
governors from every corner of the
country and every shade of opinion
ranging from Salta’s conservative
Juan Manuel Urtubey to Santa
Cruz’s Alicia Kirchner, but also
from beyond the fold, such as Santa Fe’s socialist Miguel Lifschitz
and the Neuquén Popular
Movement’s Omar Gutiérrez.
Meanwhile, the emergency decree freezing petrol prices was
slammed by a business think tank
well ahead of the oil-producing
On the same day as the decree’s
publication in the Official Gazette
the previous Friday, IDEA (Instituto para el Desarrollo Empresarial
de la Argentina) issued a communiqué saying that the move “sets a
bad precedent which jeopardises
all the intense work which has
been done from the national government downwards with the aim of
integrating us into international
trade,” also arguing that there were no “extraordinary circumstances” to justify an emergency decree
to freeze fuel prices at pre-PASO
levels on the basis of an exchange
rate of 45 pesos per dollar.
“Investments and job creation
require clear and predictable rules
sustained over time while protecting free trade and property rights”
continued the IDEA executives,
who concluded that they would
support “whoever wins in October” (a preference which would not
seem to favour Macri on the basis
of the PASO primary results).