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ARGENTINA | 28-04-2018 12:52

Political fall-out for public services cost hikes continues

A massive candlelight vigil was held last week, led by the opposition, as the government’s approval rates sank

The political shockwaves of the last round of hikes in public services reverberated throughout the whole week, after several large protests were held in the capital and across the country. A massive candlelight vigil was held last week, led by the opposition, as the government’s approval rates sank, while several Governors blamed President Mauricio Macri for handing off the “political costs” of his policies.

“One has to recognise this government’s ability to pass the political cost of its policies onto governors. They did it with the pension reform, with utility bills a year ago,” Santa Fe governors Michel Lifschitz told La Red radio on Tuesday.

Embattled Energy Minister Juan José Aranguren managed to negotiate with provincial leaders to split the costs of a temporary pricing mechanism based on lowering local taxes so as to allow consumers to pay their Winter utility bills in installments. Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal was one of the first to announce a tax cut. The decision to allow payments by installments came after a strong opposition by the Unión Cívica Radical, an ally to Macri’s ruling coalition, and Deputy Elisa Carrió.

The aggressive roll-back of subsidies has meant prices for electricity, water, ad gas have risen dramatically in Macris two years in power. Rising costs of living along stubbornly high inflation has led to a strong drop in the President’s approval ratings, polls released this week showed.

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