December 18, 2020
1. President Fernández extended the preventive, mandatory and social distancing until January 31st
President Alberto Fernández announced on Friday midday the extension preventive, mandatory and social distancing until January 31st, inclusive. The announcement was made during an event in which a AR$ 5,000 bonus was awarded to recognize the role of the “socio-community” workers who were in charge of dining rooms and care tasks in popular neighborhoods during the pandemic. In this sense, in view of the slight increase in cases in the last week, Fernández warned that “the problem did not pass” and urged to follow the health care measures. On the other hand, the President confirmed that the first doses of the Sputnik V vaccine will soon be arriving, and that the injection will begin with essential workers.
2. Government extends freeze prices of gas and electricty services
Through Decree 1020/2020, published in the Official Gazette, the government extended a measure that froze prices of electricity and gas services for 90 days. Similarly, the measure enables the renegotiation of the current policies on utilities prices with the national electricity regulator (ENRE) and gas regulator (ENARGAS) who had their operations extended for another year.
3. Health Minister puts in question vaccine´s arrival by end of December
Health Minister Ginés González García announced that, despite the government’s best efforts, several variables are complicating the arrival of the first doses of the vaccine for the end of December. The statements were made at a press conference he held alongside the ministers of health for the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, Daniel Gollán and Fernán Quiros, to discuss the current epidemiological situation.
4. President Alberto Fernández assumes presidency of Mercosur
At the Mercosur summit this week, which was hosted virtually, Alberto Fernández assumed the presidency of the trade bloc for the next six months. During his speech, Fernández stated that Mercosur is the “most important regional political project” for Argentina, adding that he dreams of a better Mercosur that is a leader in sustainable development, technological innovation and social inclusion. Fernández also declared his intention to “overcome indifferent globalization” and “build a universalization of solidarity.” President Jair Bolsonaro also emphasized the importance of the trade bloc and his administration’s desire to continue negotiations on trade agreements, the common external tariff, adjustments to the automotive and sugar sectors, and the striking of agreements regarding e-commerce.
5. November inflation reaches 3.2%
The Argentine statistical agency (INDEC) reported that the consumer price index – the country’s official measure of inflation – registered a 3.2% increase in November. So far this year, Argentina has registered a 30.9% inflation rate, and 35.8% over the past 12 months. Some of the sectors that had the sharpest increases compared to October included Recreation and Culture (5.1%), Health (3.7%), and Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (3.0%). Contrarily, prices in the Nutrition and Beverages sector decreased -2.7%, after experiencing a 4.8% increase in October. Home appliances (-3.9%), Clothing and Footwear (-3.7%) and Transportation (-3.6%) also recorded price decreases compared to October.