President Mauricio Macri told business leaders this morning that the capital controls his government introduced on Sunday are an emergency, short-term measure designed to be as "uninvasive as possible."
In his first public comments on the policy, Macri addressed a group of prominent business leaders at the Fourth Argentine Business Association (Asociación Empresaria Argentina, AEA) Conference in Buenos Aires. “We don’t like these measures,” he said. “They are only justified in an emergency and for a limited time.”
"We seek to take care of the savings of the middle class, because we know that their savings mean a lot. With these measures we are protecting that effort," said the head of state.
An escalating financial crisis forced Macri to restore capital controls years after he scrapped them on taking office in late 2015. So far, the capital controls have brought a degree of stability to the peso, though the Central Bank had to intervene in the spot market on Tuesday to avoid a currency depreciation.
“The controls were implemented with the objective to defend exchange rate stability and savers,” Macri said. “They were implemented to prevent greater harm, and designed to be as least uninvasive as possible.”
Opposition rival Alberto Fernández has yet to comment directly on the latest measures, though he tweeted earlier that Macri’s economic model had caused “recession, poverty and the destruction in the value of our most emblematic companies.” Last Friday the Peronist said Argentina is in virtual default, after the government announced a debt re-profiling plan with its creditors, including the International Monetary Fund.
Fernández, the favourite to win the presidency after he emerged from the PASO primaries on August 11 with 15-point lead, is currently teaching politics at a university in Spain. He is due to return to Argentina over the weekend, as the official campaign officially begins on September 7.
Macri told the audience Wednesday that his Government "is learning from [our] mistakes," adding that his candidates would detail their mistakes, learnings and the "many things that we plan to do differently" on the campaign trail.
He added that the Government's plan to restructure its debt, announced recently, was an attempt to "ease the financial burden of the next few years and try to reduce the financial instability that causes so much damage to the Argentina."
While Macri said that he is in constant communication with the opposition over the measures needed to stabilise the economy, Argentina’s political uncertainty is weighing on growth expectations. Economists have revised their forecasts for a rebound in growth in 2020 with predictions of a third year of contraction.