February 19, 2021
1. Government adds bill reforming taxable income to extraordinary lesgislative sessions
Via decree 106/2021 published in the Official Gazette, the government included a bill that will raise the minimum income subject to taxation, effectively decreasing the number of Argentines paying income tax. The bill was proposed by Chamber of Deputies President Sergio Massa, and states that those workers in a state of dependency in either the public or private sector will not have to pay income tax if they make less than ARS $152,000 (USD $1,705) per month. Official figures estimate that 1.27 million Argentines will now be exempt from the tax. The measure enjoyed broad support across the majority party and the opposition coalition, Juntos por el Cambio. The measure means the government will lose out on approximately ARS $40 billion (USD $448.6 million) annually in revenue.
2. President Fernández inaugurates Economic and Social Council
President Alberto Fernández inaugurated the Economic and Social Council at the Kirchner Cultural Center (CCK) – a campaign promise that hopes to develop strategies and policies associated with education, regional development, science and technology, employment and retirement. “Let us all understand that another country can be born from here”, said President Alberto Fernandez. Secretary of Strategic Issues Gustavo Béliz will head the multisectoral entity. The Council will function as a forum for discussion and reflection to develop a roadmap for the next three decades. The presidency of the council will last for five years. Now, attention turns to the entity’s institutional agenda that will be made up of five different areas of conversation (Productivity and Social Integration; Environment and Climate Change; Future of Work; Food Security and Assistance; and Innovative Democracy) and 30 working groups.
3. Covishield: 580,000 dosis of the Indian vaccine arrive in Argentina
The first 580,000 doses of Covishield, a vaccine made in India and developed with the technology used by Oxford-AstraZeneca arrived in Argentina. The second shipment with the same number of doses is slate4d to arrive in March, to complete the 1.16 million doses bought from India’s Serum Institute. Although the negotiations for the acquisition of these vaccines began recently, the quick approval from the Argentine food and drug regulator (ANMAT) allowed the government to fast track their purchase. On the other hand, Russian government spokesperson Dmitri Peskov recognized that demand for the Sputnik V vaccine remains high on a global level, and that there is no capacity to satisfy the demand. For this reason, he stated that the Russian vaccination campaign would take precedence. The Russian Sputnik V vaccine is the most used in Argentina.
4. Public hearing convened to set natural gas prices
Via resolution 117/2021 published in the Official Gazette, the Secretariat of Energy convened a public hearing for March 15 to discuss salary-adjusted natural gas prices and set the level of subsidies apportioned by the state. Natural gas prices have not been adjusted since April 2019, when prices were frozen. On average, the cost of living (inflation) has exceeded 100% since. Enargas auditor Federico Bernal has stated in chats with gas distributors that he hopes to raise the Price between 7 and 9%.
5. Four districts restart in-person classes
Following one year without in-person classes, students in the City of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero and Jujuy returned to the classroom. In all cases, the return will be done progressively and in phases to reduce the risk of coronavirus contagion. In the capital, schools opened for those between 45 days and 5 years, the first three grades of primary school and special education, as well as those in their first and second year of secondary. “There is a single protocol established by a resolution passed by the Minister of Health (Fernán Quirós) and myself, which takes into account general safety criteria,” stated Buenos Aires Education Minister Soledad Acuña.