Tuesday, July 23, 2024

ARGENTINA | 23-01-2024 16:29

New version of 'Omnibus Bill' with amendments sent to Congress

Point by point, the main changes to the Milei administration's 'Omnibus Law'; Government has eliminated over 100 articles after negotiations with opposition sectors as it battles for bill's approval in Congress.

President Javier Milei’s government has presented to national deputies a new version of the so-called ‘Omnibus Law’ eliminating over 100 articles in the course of negotiations with opposition sectors, reducing the number of clauses from 664 to 523.

Giving ground to the demands of the moderate opposition, the Milei administration has sent to Congress a new version of the bill contemplating amendments with the aim of winning approval for the bulk of the changes presented.

According to the document, to which the Times had access, the main changes accepted by the government include the elimination YPF oil from the list of companies to be privatised while there may only be a partial privatisation for fellow state-owned firms Nucleoeléctrica Argentina, Banco Nación and ARSAT satellite telecommunications, with the state obliged to maintain control. 

The La Libertad Avanza government also yielded to the call of provincial governors to eliminate export duties from regional economies as well as the government’s prerogative to raise them. 

“The Executive Branch will only retain the prerogative to reduce them,” reads the new article.

President Milei promises in the text that “when the economy is stabilised, the aim will be to lower export duties and taxation in general” while his entourage adds that for that to happen, both this law and the DNU emergency decree must be approved.

After these changes, a source in the presidential entourage explained to the Noticias Argentinas news agency that “short of a black swan” – there is no inclination to apply any more amendments other than those contemplated in the new bill.

There is also a commitment to maintain the mechanism for updating pensions until April and then to start automatically updating them on the basis of the previous month’s inflation as calculated by the INDEC national statistics bureau.


Winning over moderates

Even if it consists of a rough draft presented to caucus chiefs, the government places its bets on winning the backing of moderate opposition sectors, which immediately began to analyse the changes in detail.

After the criticisms triggered by the presentation of the original bill (formally entitled “Bases y Puntos de Partida para la Libertad de los Argentinos” and more widely known as the Omnibus Law), President Milei decided to accommodate them.

The head of state gave the green light after postponing a series of issues contemplated in the original text to be debated as from March in the period of ordinary sessions, among which the outstanding items were changes in company law, the transfer of national courtrooms to the City, mental health and electoral reform (single-member constituencies, the future of the PASO primaries and the political parties regime).

The libertarian administration has further agreed to reduce to one year from two the delegation of legislative prerogatives with the option of extending them for a further year with Congress approval.

The government summoned for 6pm on Tuesday evening a plenary committee session to commence passage of the omnibus bill now containing the amendments accepted by the government with a view to starting debate on the House floor on Thursday.


Key changes

Below are the main amendments now included in the original text, as seen in the draft version circulating among lawmakers.

– Emergency powers: The period has been reduced from two years to one, renewable only for a year. The declaration of emergency has been eliminated for the social and defence areas.

– Pensions: The current quarterly updating mechanism will be respected for now. As from April pensions will be updated monthly on the basis of the previous month’s inflation as announced by INDEC. 

– Privatisations:  YPF is struck off the list of possible privatisations with only partial privatisation for Nucleoeléctrica Argentina, Banco Nación and ARSAT.The state obligation to have a “golden share” with veto rights for decisions implying closure of the activity is removed.

– Export duties: Removed for regional economies. The government’s prerogative to raise export duties is to be eliminated. 

– Political reform: The reforms introducing single-member constituencies and eliminating PASO primaries are to pass to ordinary sessions.

– Public employees: Civil servants may not engage in political activity. 

– Personal assets: Benefits for those who pay their taxes.

– Fisheries: Obligation to unload catches in Argentine ports and for trawlers to have Argentine crews is maintained.

– Culture: The INCAA film institute will continue to receive an indeterminate sum automatically. The National Arts Fund can count on the 70 percent of its funding which are administrative costs and is guaranteed against closure.



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