The Agriculture Ministry has laid off 543 workers, the ministry announced Wednesday.
The layoffs are “perfectly legal, within the law, and this is something that can happen”, Agriculture Minister Luis Miguel Etchevehere told Radio con Vos.
“They are not extra-official jobs. They are [workers with] contracts that expire every year-end and are renewed automatically or not”, he explained of the 330 ministry workers and 213 SENASA sanitation and control body employees who were sacked.
Etchevehere said the decision was part of broader government attempts to reduce the size of Argentina’s bureaucracy.
“We are adapting to what [the] Modernisation [Ministry] has requested”, he said.
Etchevehere took the opportunity to criticise the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration (2007-2015) for its “irresponsible attitude”, including allegations it inflated the ministry’s staff before leaving office.
“In 2008, the ministry had 606 employees and when the previous government left it had 4,212”, he charged.
Late last year, Congress signed off on a 10.5-percent reduction to the Agriculture portfolio’s budget, a figure Etchevehere said “was a number we need to adapt to” in 2018.
So far this year, the Agriculture Ministry has cut the number of executive positions by 34 percent, from 211 to 138; reduced the amount of departments from 20 to eight; and cut 218 million pesos in spending on travel, security and insurance, the Ministry reported.