March 12, 2021
1. President Fernández confirms resignation of Justice Minister Marcela Losardo
On Monday night, President Alberto Fernández confirmed Justice Minister Marcela Losardo’s resignation. Although Losardo was present for the International Women’s Day on Monday, the president stated that the minister was “overwhelmed” and that the resignation was her own prerogative. Losardo’s resignation comes one week after a series of judiciary-related events, among them the president’s declarations during his speech that opened congressional sessions, the allegations made by Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner regarding U.S. dollar futures before the Federal Court of Appeals, and Losardo’s critique of a bicameral legislative commission to “analyze the judiciary’s procedures,” in the framework of a balance of power as suggested by the president. Although there have not been any official statements regarding her successor, legislators Martín Soria and Ramiro Gutiérrez, as well as Justice Secretary Juan Martín Mena, have been mentioned as possibilities.
2. Government announces series of measures affecting automotive sector
President Alberto Fernández led a ceremony at the Bicentennial Museum, alongside Productive Development Minister Matías Kulfas and Economy Minister Martín Guzmán, where he declared benefits for the automotive sector. Fernández announced measures to exempt the sector from incremental export withholdings taxes and revealed the submission of the “Investment Promotion Law” for the automotive sector and connected industries to Congress. He highlighted that the sector is “crucial” for the country as it generates production and jobs, and avoids the import of materials and the loss of money. Kulfas celebrated the sector’s surpassing pre-pandemic production levels and noted that there is a political opportunity for “dialogue and compromise” with the industry.
3. The Chamber of Deputies adds new items to income tax bill
Chamber of Deputies President Sergio Massa added changes to a bill on income tax authored by him, including establishing that the annual complementary salary will not be subject to income tax, and that the benefit will enter into effect as of January 1st of this year, which implies that the government will return what was collected on income tax during the first three months of 2021. It is worth noting that these changes emerged from agreements with opposition legislators and the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), and have the support of the Ministry of Economy and the Argentine tax revenue service (AFIP). The project, which enjoys broad support from all sectors, will be discussed and approved before the end of March. If approved, the bill will benefit approximately 1.2 million workers, whose monthly income will increase.
4. February inflation reaches 3.6%
The National Statistical Institute (INDEC) published its consumer price index – the country’s official measure of inflation – for the month of February. The figures revealed a 3.6% inflation rate compared to the month prior, representing a slowing of the rate with respect to December and January. Annual inflation now stands at 40.7%. The sectors with the largest increases in February included restaurants and hotels (5.4%) and transportation (4.8%), while education (0.1%) and communications (1.8%) registered the smallest increases in prices. The communications sectors’ prices are regulated by the state. Nutrition and non-alcoholic beverages had the greatest impact on the overall variation of prices.
5. The government extended the health emergency
Through Decree 167/21, the national government extended the health emergency until December 31st, 2021. The measure, which was established in March 2020 for a period of one year, provided the national Executive Power with the tools to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, declared by the World Health Organization (WHO). In this regard, the decree issued that the ministries of Health and Productive Development may set maximum prices for critical supplies. Likewise, they may adopt the necessary measures to prevent shortages. Finally, the regulation established, in case of a critical epidemiological health situation, an enrollment and provisional specialty certification regime for those who do not have their degree process completed, be it undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate in health sciences, prior intervention of the Ministry of Health.