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ARGENTINA | 30-05-2024 09:53

Milei’s sweeping deregulation plan passes first Senate hurdle

Lawmakers reach consensus with 'Ley de Bases' bill moving to a Senate floor vote, which by law is at least a week away. 

President Javier Milei’s main legislative attempt to deregulate Argentina’s economy is one step closer to a decisive vote after weeks of stalemate in the opposition-controlled upper chamber.

Members of the general, budget and constitutional committees approved sending the so-called 'omnibus' bill to all senators. Lawmakers achieved “dictamen,” or consensus, Wednesday night on moving to a Senate floor vote, which by law is at least a week away. 

The bill, first introduced in December, passed the lower house in late April after being significantly watered down. It went to the relevant upper chamber committees on May 7, but has been bogged down in negotiations until now.

Milei’s party holds only seven of the 72 seats in the Senate, while the main Peronist opposition holds 33. That means the libertarian president had to broker deals with centrist lawmakers to get it passed, underscoring a pragmatism long sought by foreign investors.

Milei was hoping to get the bill approved and sign a pact with the nation’s governors by May 25, a national holiday, but ended up holding a solo event instead. Amid the stalemate, the president fired his Cabinet chief Nicolás Posse, replacing him Tuesday night with former Interior minister Guillermo Francos. Francos spent his first day on the job discussing the bill with Senate bloc leaders.

Lawmakers negotiated changes to the bill’s sections on income taxes, tax amnesty and deregulation measures, according to a copy of the legislation seen by Bloomberg News.

If the draft is approved on the floor, the bill would head back to the lower house for it to accept any modifications before going into effect.

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by Manuela Tobias, Bloomberg

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