The governor of Santa Fe province Miguel Lifschitz has come out swinging against the national government, claiming the Mauricio Macri administration is passing “the political cost” of its policies onto governors.
“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”, Lifschitz told La Red radio on Tuesday.
The national government wants provincial governments to partly cover the costs of the temporary pricing mechanism it announced last week by lowering local taxes. The mechanism will allow consumers to pay their Winter utility bills in delayed installments.
“The tax burden that provincial and municipal governments add to electricity prices can add an additional 25 percent (to prices). It is consumers, including those with subsidies, who end up paying”, Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio told Radio Mitre on Monday prior to a Federal Energy Council meeting at the Energy Ministry.
Lifschitz's comments come as Buenos Aires province governor María Eugenia Vidal, a key Macri ally among provincial governments, lowered provincial taxes on utilities such as electricity, water and gas.
“We don’t have the taxes María Eugenia Vidal has in Buenos Aires (province)”, Lifschitz charged, suggesting Vidal’s decision was aimed at covering up “a utilities policy that has a big social impact and will continue to do so into the future”.
Since coming to power in 2015, the Macri government has rolled back multi-billion peso subsidies on utilities established during the former Kichner governments. But the recent 30-40 percent hike in gas bills, and stubbornly high inflation, has cornered the Macri administration. The government has been particularly concerned about the frustration among its key voter base: the middle classes.