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ECONOMY | 19-04-2024 15:28

Llao Llao Forum: Milei slams predecessors in speech to top business leaders

Javier Milei makes annual trip to Bariloche for forum held at Llao Llao Hotel; La Libertad Avanza leader given warm welcome as he complains about “inheritance” from ex-president Alberto Fernández's government.

President Javier Milei was given a warm welcome at the Llao Llao Forum in chilly Bariloche on Friday as he called on the nation’s top business leaders to back his reform push.

Milei, 53, delivered the closing speech at the event, in which he said change was not solely his responsibility. 

"Those who have the power to move Argentina forward are the businessmen and entrepreneurs,” he declared.

His speech to the leaders of the so-called ‘círculo rojo’ – a phrase used to refer to Argentina's most influential entrepreneurs and economic heavyweights – was behind closed doors, but details began to trickle out on Friday afternoon.

Government sources briefed local outlets that the President detailed the problems he found after his inauguration as head of state, addressed the current economic situation and defended the measures he has introduced. He also outlined his goals for the immediate future.

According to sources quoted by the Noticias Argentinas news agency, Milei promised business leaders that a tax cut is "on the way." 

My government has "carried out the biggest fiscal adjustment in humanity,” the President is reported to have said, hailing the changes that are "creating the conditions for Argentina to return to growth.”

"You will take care of the rest," he told the audience to tech leaders, entrepreneurs and land-owners.

The President criticised his Peronist predecessor in office, Alberto Fernández, slamming the “inheritance” left to him upon taking office last December.

Milei complained that "15 percent of GDP" that was previously dedicated to "parasitic activities" was being returned to "the private sector for productive investments." 

The La Libertad Avanza leader, who is now in his fifth month in office, was something of a returning hero as he made his annual pilgrimage to Neuquén. 

Milei was not the only head of state in attendance at the luxury Llao Llao Hotel. Paraguayan President Santiago Peña, an economist like Milei, and Uruguay's Luis Lacalle Pou also delivered speeches. 

The President’s closing address was eagerly awaited by the event's organisers and Milei’s attendance generated a buzz in the lead-up to the event. 

Business leaders were hoping to hear details about his plans, such as when he intends to remove currency controls and if he intends to embark upon dollarisation of Argentina’s inflation-hit economy.

Among the prominent business leaders in attendance were Marcos Galperin (Mercado Libre), Martín Migoya and Guibert Englebienne (Globant); Federico Braun (La Anónima), Carlos Miguens (Miguens Bemberg Holdings), Karina Román (Román), Verónica Andreani (Andreani), Agustín Otero Monsegur (San Miguel), Sebastián Serrano (Ripio), Eduardo Bastitta (Plaza Logística), Sebastián Bagó (Bagó) and Roberto Murchison (Grupo Murchison).

Milei’s trip south, flown by Tango 01, was his first with a plane from the presidential fleet since the government announced he would stop flying on commercial flights due to security concerns. He was accompanied by his sister, presidential chief-of-staff Karina Milei, and his spokesperson, Manuel Adorni.

"At the Llao Llao Forum in the city of San Carlos de Bariloche: a great presentation on the inheritance received, the current situation and above all the future of Argentina," Adorni posted on the X social network on Friday.

During his four months of government to date, Milei has introduced severe cutbacks on government spending as part of a so-called ‘chainsaw’ programme to reach zero deficit this year. 

Protesters from the ATE state-workers’ union blocked roads in the vicinity of Bariloche in an attempt to underline their opposition to Milei’s recent wave of public sector lay-offs. In the end, the President took a helicopter to the hotel to avoid being delayed.

Once onsite, the La Libertad Avanza seemed to enjoy himself. Before his speech, he and his sister spent time petting a dog from the Federal Police Force. The Milei siblings are known animal lovers, not least the President who loved his late dog, Conan, so much that he paid for five clones to be made from the late canine’s DNA.

Milei also found the time to take a photo in front of the hotel's famous staircase, surrounded by the country's leading businessmen, including Eduardo Elsztain, Marcos Galperín and Federico Braun, among others.


– TIMES/NA/PERFIL
 

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