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ECONOMY | 10-09-2018 09:44

Gov't expands welfare programmes with US$1.1b spending hike

Much of the additional spending will flow from the Labour Ministry, specifically from infrastructure, science and technology programmes, into social welfare programmes, Treasury reported.

Argentina's Treasury Ministry has authorised 40 billion pesos (US$1.1 billion) worth of additional spending in the 2018 Budget, just as the economic crisis throws a blanket of uncertainty over negotiations surrounding the 2019 Budget.

Much of the additional spending will flow from the Labour Ministry, specifically from infrastructure, science and technology programmes, into social welfare programmes, Treasury reported.

The government recently merged the Health and Social Development ministries, leaving Social Development Minister Carolina Stanley (pictured, centre left) in charge of over 60 percent of the State's spending in welfare.

Over 15.5 billion pesos (US$ 419 million) has been assigned to social programmes while another 10 billion (US$ 270 million) will go to the planning and execution of the national Electric Energy Programme. 

Over six billion pesos (US$ 162 million) have been assigned to the Road Transport Policy Office and another 2.6 billion pesos (US$70.3 million ) to the Medical Attention for Pensioners programme. Almost 1.3 billion pesos (US$ 35 million ) will flow into organisations that Argentina operates overseas. 

Meanwhile, the National Border Force will receive an additional 400 million pesos (US$ 10.8 million) and the Army an additional 142 million pesos (US$ 3.8 million).

ECONOMIC CRISIS

President Mauricio Macri recently announced the expansion of social welfare programmes to offset the impact of his government's austerity agenda.

The government will continue discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week as efforts to stave off an economic crisis multiply. Meanwhile, provincial governors have begun descending on Buenos Aires for key talks surrounding the 2019 Budget, including a meeting with the President tomorrow (Tuesday).

"Argentina will start again, but there is a transition to navigate," Macri admitted Friday.

The peso was starting to recover at the end of last week after a dramatic two days of crashes the week before. 

Having lost 20 percent against the US dollar over two days a week earlier, it regained 5.35 percent from Wednesday to Friday to close at 37.77. But that still represents a loss of around half its value since the start of 2018.

Argentines, who view the dollar as a safety net for their savings, have withdrawn US$500 million from the banking sector since April. According to official estimates, they are holding some US$300 billion outside of their country's financial circuit, either in cash or abroad, mostly in Uruguay and the United Sates.

The micro-recovery has been helped by positive noises coming out of Washington, where Economy Minister Nicolás Dujovne met with IMF head Christine Lagarde last week.

-TIMES/AGENCIES

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