July 17, 2020
1. President Fernandez announced the new phase of isolation
President Alberto Fernandez announced the new phase of the preventive, mandatory and social isolation, after four months of the measure taken in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. “Between July 18th and August 2nd, we will return to normal life and we will do it step by step,” said the president, who was accompanied by the governor of Buenos Aires province, Axel Kicillof, and the Buenos Aires city major, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta. In addition, three governors attended virtually: Arabela Carreras (Río Negro), Jorge Capitanich (Chaco) and Gerardo Morales (Jujuy). Regarding the City of Buenos Aires, Rodriguez Larreta said that in the new phase that begins this Saturday, the reopening of the local shops, including hairdressers, as well as some professional activities will return. Likewise, the return of outdoor physical activity will be allowed. Governor Kiciloff, on the other hand, explained as of Monday, companies will be allowed to reopen, with strict protocols and their own transportation in the province of Buenos Aires, while retails is supposed to open on Wednesday next week. One week later, on Monday July 27th, the province will enable professional activities. In the afternoon, both district chiefs will provide details at a conference.
2. Inflation in June reaches 2.2%
The Argentine statistical agency (INDEC) released its Consumer Price Index – the country’s official measure of inflation – for the month of June revealing a 2.2% increase over May and a 42.8% inflation rate over the last 12 months. The first half of 2020 accumulated a 13.6% increase in the index, the lowest such figure given the timeframe since 2017. Prices increased most in the clothing and footwear sector (6.6%), recreation and culture (4.2%) and home goods and maintenance (4.1%).
3. Nine provinces to return to in-person classes in August
Education Minister Nicolás Trotta confirmed on Wednesday that in-person classes will resume in provinces already in Phase 5 of reopening, as well as rural establishments and schools in small towns where the coronavirus pandemic remains under control. “We are projecting that the return to classes will have to take into account the epidemiological reality. School is going to be different from March, because not all kids will be able to go to school every day,” stated Trotta in a radio interview. The minister noted that in order to return to classes, a “classroom of 30 students will have to be divided into two or three groups. On the other hand, the minister confirmed that these measures will be obligatory: “Schools that cannot comply with this new protocol are schools that will not receive students until implementing the proper conditions.” The statements made by Trotta came after he led a meeting on Tuesday with the governors of Formosa, Corrientes, Catamarca, Misiones, Santa Fe, San Luis, San Juan, Santiago del Estero and Tucumán to smooth over the details for the return to classes, which will take place in a progressive and phased manner.
4. Minister of Economy discusses debt, Vicentin and wealth tax
Economy Minister Martín Guzmán gave an interview where he referred to several relevant topics. Regarding Argentina’s debt, he mentioned that the government’s most recent “offer shows the will of the government to reach an agreement,” adding that “the two parties began [negotiations] from two distant places and began to come together, but there was a group of creditors that did not want to continue negotiating.” Additionally, he stated that the “process and offer has been received with both domestic and international praise” referencing the G20, the IMF and other economic experts. Regarding the IMF, he stated that “when we negotiate, we are going to aim to have a program that helps Argentina.” Regarding recently-expropriated soy crusher Vicentin, he stated that “in the context of a pandemic, not acting is imprudent. It is important that the state acts to avoid causing issues to workers.” Finally, Guzmán voiced support for a bill submitted by the Fernández administration that would impose a wealth tax, stating that for “those who have the greatest possibility of contributing, it’s reasonable that they do so.”
5. Government authorizes increases for products under price controls
The Secretariat of Interior Commerce authorized an increase between 2 and 4.5% for products that fall under the “Maximum Price” program – in effect through August 31st – and by an average of 5% for the “Safeguarded Prices” program, in effect through October 5th. In the case of the Maximum Price program the price ceilings had been in effect since March 6th, as outlined in the secretariat’s Resolution 100. “Increases in the categories of the Maximum Price program will be 2% for soups, broths, purees, dressings, condiments and snacks; 2.5% for household cleaning and frozen foods; 3% for dairy, produce, conserves, sweeteners and pickled items; 3.5% for personal care; 4% for flours, noodles, crackers and breads, beverages, oils, rice and legumes; and 4.5% for teas,” as outlined by the dependency of the Ministry of Productive Development. On the other hand, an agreement was reached for increases in the Safeguarded Prices program, a voluntary public-private initiative. 44 new products were added, and now 351 products, including household cleaning and sanitation products, pastas, legumes and others are part of the list. “The update was agreed with producers based on cost structures, and varies depending on their category,” the Interior Commerce Secretariat reported.