April 1st, 2022
1. INDEC published the Poverty and Economic Activity Indices
According to the Poverty and Indigence Index published by the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INDEC) during the second quarter of 2021, the percentage of households under the poverty line reached 27.9%; that is, 37.3% of the total number of people. As for indigence, it reached 8.2% of the total population. With respect to the first half of 2021, the incidence of poverty registered a reduction of 3.3 percentage points in population. Statistics show that, although activity is recovering, poverty persists 1.8 percentage points above the last semester before the pandemic. In the case of indigence, it also showed a decrease of 2.5 percentage points in persons. Finally, and at regional level, there was a reduction in poverty and indigence, with the exception of the Cuyo region, which recorded an increase in poverty. On the other hand, the INDEC also published the Monthly Estimator of Economic Activity (EMAE) for the month of January, which revealed that economic activity decreased by 0.5% that month. However, it grew 5.4% in year-on-year terms. In this sense, the highest year-on-year increases were in “Hotels and restaurants” (51.5%), and “Mining and quarrying” (14.0%).
2. The U.S. Ambassador to Argentina met with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and businessmen
This week, Marc Stanley, the new U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, held a series of meetings to discuss the work agenda. On Monday, he met with the Argentinian Vice President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, in her office at the Senate. Such a meeting had not taken place since 2011, when bilateral relations between the two countries were paralyzed after a diplomatic incident. Monday’s meeting meant a reopening of direct dialogue with the U.S. mission in Argentina. At the meeting they analyzed the bilateral relationship, the negotiation with the International Monetary Fund and the global situation. At the same time, the Vice-President stated through her social networks that they also discussed issues such as money laundering, human trafficking and human rights. In this sense, Fernández de Kirchner asked him to collaborate in the exchange of data with the United States to be able to carry out a laundering of dollars in order to pay the International Monetary Fund. Continuing with the meetings, Stanley met on Wednesday with businessmen in an event organized by the Chamber of Commerce of the United States in Argentina (AmCham). The event was also attended by national government officials and representatives of the Legislature and the Judiciary. There, the Ambassador focused his speech on the situation in Ukraine and the agreement with the IMF, as well as highlighting the good practices of the United States as a trading partner of the country, by prioritizing environmental care and corporate social responsibility.
3. Without sessions in the Congress, legislators held a series of meetings with different sectors
Despite not achieving a definition on the conformation of most of the legislative commissions, the Congress of the Nation maintained activities during the week. From the ruling party, a group of deputies demanded the application of the Supply Law and the Law of Gondolas during a public exposition, which would allow the Executive Power to have more tools to intervene in the face of the sustained increase of inflation, more so in the food sector. Thus, a sector of the ruling party indicated that they would set up a specific working group to address the inflationary phenomenon and evaluate additional measures. On the other hand, the opposition blocks received the representatives of the Mesa de Enlace, a group that gathers the main agricultural entities of the country, to discuss the recent measures adopted by the national government with respect to the increase of withholding taxes on soybean meal, corn, and biodiesel. In this sense, the general proposal consisted of reducing export duties that affect a large part of the agricultural sector, so that Congress may resume its activity and may enable the advance of bills with this orientation. It is worth mentioning that the difficulty to reach an agreement between the opposition and the ruling party continues and, therefore, Congress remains with a low level of legislative activity, with no plenary sessions scheduled for the coming weeks.
4. Government met with businessmen to review price increases and launched the Argentina 2030 Plan
On Monday, the Secretary of Domestic Trade, Roberto Feletti, met with representatives of the business sector and supermarkets to evaluate the evolution of prices during the last weeks of March. At the meeting, the official reiterated that there is a price list of approximately 1,580 products that showed “unjustified increases” and, therefore, their prices must be backdated to the price they had in March 10th. This measure takes place in the midst of the negotiation for the renewal of Precios Cuidados to be held on April 7th. On the other hand, the Minister of Productive Development, Matías Kulfas, presented at a press conference the guidelines of Plan Argentina 2030, which will work on seven axes: employment, poverty reduction, strengthening entrepreneurship, federalism, reducing inequality, environmental objectives, and finally, the gender perspective. The Minister then mentioned the “10 industrializing missions” of the plan, which will have, among other objectives, to develop the green economy for a just environmental transition, produce more goods and services for health, adapt food production to the challenges of the 21st century, modernize and create quality jobs in traditional industrial sectors, and double up exports.
5. The Economic and Social Council will work on a federal productive agenda
President Alberto Fernández called a new meeting of the Economic and Social Council, in which representatives of the labor unions, the business sector and the government participated to discuss the work agenda at a federal level. During the meeting, the President emphasized the need to promote dialogue “and build a different reality in a country full of urgencies”. He also referred to the problem of inflation in Argentina, within the framework of the agreement recently signed with the IMF. Among other presentations, the Secretary for Strategic Affairs, Gustavo Beliz, mentioned that the Council is currently working on a study to establish an agreement on the use of social networks. However, the Presidency clarified that this initiative does not seek to regulate their operation.
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