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ARGENTINA | 30-05-2024 16:50

Milei’s flagship reforms head for Senate vote

Vice-President Victoria Villarruel and new Cabinet Chief Guillermo Francos secure signatures, allowing 'Ley de Bases' to clear committee stage in Senate.

Nearly a month after its massive reform bill entered the upper house, La Libertad Avanza has secured consensus and a vote on the sweeping legislation is likely to take place in the Senate next week.

The ruling party obtained the necessary number of signatures that will allow President Javier Milei’s flagship ‘Ley de Bases’ ‘bill and its accompanying fiscal package to be put to lawmakers in the upper house at midday on Thursday.

The news was confirmed by Vice-President Victoria Villarruel, who serves as the head of the upper house.

An agreement, it emerged, was reached on Wednesday, but the absence of some key senators delayed the declaration of ‘dictatum,’ or consensus, at committee stage.

Lengthy negotiations and a Cabinet shake-up were necessary to secure the bill’s progression. New Cabinet Chief Guillermo Francos was forced to visit Congress and intervene personally and, along with Villarruel, he led talks with pro-dialogue senators.

La Libertad Avanza are firmly in the minority in both chambers of Congress, holding only seven out of 72 seats in the Senate. Government officials have had to give ground during talks, negotiating deals with potential allies to win support.

Sources said Wednesday’s negotiations were crucial, with several senators threatening to submit their own opinion that would run contrary to the government’s. Holdouts included Guadalupe Tagliaferri (Buenos Aires City, PRO) and Martín Lousteau (Buenos Aires City, UCR), who previously described the ruling party’s amendments to its mega-reform bill as “cosmetic.”

The key, according to those with knowledge of the talks, was Santa Cruz Senator José María Carambia (Moveré), who fell in line after the government agreed to hike provincial mining royalties from three to five percent.

“Provinces adhering to the regime of this law already collecting royalties or deciding to collect them, may not cash in a percentage over five percent over the ‘pit mouth’ value of the extracted mineral,” reads the amendment.

Nevertheless, the current version of the bill still faces resistance on key points. Senator Pablo Blanco (Tierra del Fuego, UCR), spoke out against the privatisation of state airline Aerolíneas Argentinas, the Correo Argentino post office and Radio Nacional in committee stage talks.

For Blanco, the law "has a very porteño and centralist vision.”

 "I can understand them, but we are in a federal country. Although the current government finds the word 'federal' a bit of a sting. It seems that everything revolves around the AMBA and the Province of Buenos Aires," he argued.

The signing of the opinion aroused suspicion among Kirchnerite lawmakers, who complained that they do not know the final text that has been approved.

“If they made a change we don’t know what it is, we don’t know what we’re voting on, we don’t know the new opinion,” said Unión por la Patria Senator Mariano Recalde.

On a radio interview, the La Cámpora leader said that the libertarian bill “promotes price hikes, the destruction of the national industry and will prevent many people from retiring.”

“There isn’t a single amendment which benefits people,” he declared.

If the new draft of the ‘Ley de Bases’ is approved by the Senate, the bill would head back to the lower house for it to accept any changes. If backed, President Milei would then have to sign it into law.


– TIMES/NA

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