April 2, 2021
1. After passing in the Chamber of Deputies, Senate begins debate on income tax reform
The project that seeks to elevate the minimum threshold for income tax eligibility will now be debated in the upper house after receiving 241 votes in favor in the lower house. The debate of the bill authored by Chamber of Deputies President Sergio Massa will also include Labor minister Claudio Moroni and Tax Policy Secretary Roberto Arias. According to government estimates, the reforms will exempt nearly 1.3 million Argentines – from workers in a state of dependency and pensioners – from paying income tax. Thousands of additional taxpayers with salaries between ARS $150,000 and ARS $173,000 (USD $1,630 – $1,880) will enjoy a lower taxation rate. The measure will apply retroactively beginning January 1st of this year, and the threshold will vary depending on salary variations.
2. COVID-19: news cases peak in the capital, spurring new restrictions across province of Buenos Aires
On Monday 29th, 2,084 people were confirmed as positive cases of coronavirus in the Capital, the highest such figure since the beginning of the pandemic. The last peak took place in August 2020, when 1,554 people tested positive. Although Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta considered that the uptick in cases could classified as a resurgence, he did not confirm whether or not circulation and activities would be restricted, instead appealing for citizens to use “individual responsibility.” The province of Buenos Aires, on the other hand, decided to limit movement. Several municipalities also opted to move forward with restrictions. The province’s Minister of Health, Daniel Gollán, expressed concern at the “explosive” increase in cases registered during the previous three days (160% on Friday, 167% on Saturday, 215% on Sunday). Chief of Staff Carlos Bianco assured that the province would adopt the measures recommended by the national government and would incentivize remote work for public officials. Additionally, he announced measures in accordance with the epidemiological situation across the 110 districts in phase 4 that will begin today: all activities between 2 and 6AM are prohibited, aside from essential and production-related activities; groups of people are limited to 10, and the government will consider the creation of a phase 3 with new restrictions, given that only phase 4 and 5 restrictions exist for the time being.
3. Maximun Prices program extended until May 15
Through Resolution 281/2021, published this Wednesday in the Official Gazette, Domestic Trade Secretary Paula Español extended the price ceiling program by 45 days. The program was scheduled to expire on March 31st. The resolution does not include changes in conditions or the list of products on the list, since there have been no new authorized increases. In addition, the companies involved in the chain of production, distribution and marketing of products included in the program were once again spurred to increase their production up to the maximum of their installed capacity and to take necessary measures to ensure their transportation and supply throughout the remainder of the program. Productive Development Minister Matías Kulfas stated a few weeks ago that the program will continue until companies align their prices with inflation targets and demonstrate “concrete commitments.” In a similar vein to the price control policies, the Secretary of Domestic Trade created the System for the Inspection of Labels and Tags (SiFIRE) through Resolution 283/2021. The regulation states that, “in recent times there has been a substantial increase in the incorporation to market of products with different presentations that, in many cases, differ slightly from products already registered for marketing, generating a multiplicity of options susceptible to error or confusion among consumers”.
4. Economic activity fell 2% in January, but shows signs of rebounding
Economic activity registered a 2% decrease in year-over-year terms, but a monthly recovery of 1.9% (seasonally adjusted), according to data published by Argentina’s national statistical institute (INDEC). This is the ninth consecutive monthly increase and the largest over the last four months. The Ministry of Economy affirmed that the economic activity exceeded the level reported in March 2020 but is 1.3% below the level prior to the pandemic. Seven sectors of the economy grew y/y, two more than in December. In January, fishing led growth (12.3%), followed by construction (10.2%). Financial intermediation (7.2%), industry (4.6%) and commerce (2.6%) also grew, the latter two sectors registering their third consecutive increase.
5. Controls at airports and terminals reinforced, no domestic travel restrictions
Chief of Staff Santiago Cafiero and Health Minister Carla Vizzotti announced a series of recommendations in light of the increase in coronavirus cases. Additionally, Cafiero and Vizzotti met with Tourism and Sport Minister Matías Lammens and a committee of experts comprised of medical and scientific advisors in a bid to reinforce compliance with biosecurity measures in anticipation of Holy Week. Following the meeting, Lammens stated, “as we had projected, there will not be restrictions on domestic travel for Holy Week. Of course, the epidemiological situation in neighboring countries is a reason for us to double down on safety efforts. For this reason, we are working with both the public and private sectors to ensure compliance with these protocols. He added that “it is fundamental for regional economies to continue reactivating tourism. We are going to reinforce controls at airports, terminals, and the primary destinations to strengthen [adherence to biosecurity protocols] so we can enjoy our marvelous vacation destinations this long weekend,” Lammens stated in a Casa Rosada press conference.