May 14, 2021
1. President Alberto Fernández traveled to Europe in pursuit of debt support
During their official visit to Europe, President Alberto Fernández and Economy Minister Martín Guzmán led a series of meetings with various heads of state and international leaders. The primary objective of the visit was to discuss the socioeconomic troubles facing Argentina, as well as the country’s negotiations with multilateral lenders like the Paris Club and the IMF. The president and minister held meetings with the prime ministers of Portugal, Spain and France, as well as Pope Francis and IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva. The goal with the IMF is to establish new agreements regarding upcoming debt payment deadlines. In principle, President Fernández was able to receive public backing for negotiations from several European leaders. Both Fernández and Guzmán will return to Argentina on Saturday, May 15th. On the other hand, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Sergio Massa, and the leader of the Frente de Todos block, Máximo Kirchner, received the support of the President of the Chinese Parliament, Li Zhanshu, during a videoconference. The Chinese official transmitted his country’s support to the negotiations being carried out by Argentina with the IMF.
2. 4.1% inflation rate registered in April, adds to 17.6% inflation rate for 2021
According to the Argentine statistical agency’s (INDEC) Consumer Price Index, the country’s official measure of inflation, April registered a 4.1% inflation rate. Sectors that registered the greatest monthly increases were clothing and footwear (6.0%) and transportation (5.7%). The national government has shown concern over the increase in prices and their impact on real wages. Over the past few weeks, cabinet officials have emphasized the importance of combating the inflationary phenomenon, highlighting the role of price controls and related measures. With regards to one of these measures, the price ceiling program, the “Gondola Law” will take effect on May 15th, a law that hopes to boost competition in supermarkets and reduce the influence of dominant brands for some products.
3. The bill that expands the powers of the Executive Power in the managment of the pandemic advances
The executive branch sent a bill to the Chamber of Deputies on Monday that seeks to define certain epidemiological parameters that would broaden the president’s powers in relation to pandemic management. Initially, the bill received numerous critiques from the opposition, claiming it would give “superpowers” to the executive branch, and rejected it from the outset. The majority party, on the other hand, contested that the bill sets fixed, science-based parameters that the government could use before the need to implement new restrictive measures. The project, which received a majority opinion only from the majority party, will be debated next week on the floor. The Fernández administration hopes to approve the project before May 21st, date by which the powers given to him via emergency decree expire.
4. COVID-19: government announces the arrival of 4 millon doses in May
During the Federal Health Council, Health Minister Carla Vizzotti announced the late May arrival of 3.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, for a total of 16 million doses acquired. Over the past few days, Argentina also received Sputnik V vaccines from Russia and via the COVAX program. The government is continuing its vaccination program and discussions to acquire new sources and a greater number of vaccines to confront the second peak of cases. “Without a doubt, this is the beginning of a new stage after the efforts of the national government through various channels to acquire vaccines and apply the first doses and complete vaccinations,” stated Vizzotti. In a report published on Thursday, 26,531 new cases were reported over 24 hours, totaling 3,242,103 confirmed cases and 69,254 deaths.
5. Government lauched line of credit for digitalization of SMEs
Chief of Staff Santiago Cafiero held the “First Meeting for the Reactivation of Production” alongside Productive Development Minister Matías Kulfas, where the two announced a line of credit from the Argentine central bank for the digitization of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with rates subsidized by the National Productive Development Fund (FONDEP). At the meeting, Kulfas stated, “Despite the emergence of the pandemic, we never lost sight of our strategic goals,” continuing that they are working to sustain production and use “all financial tools that allowed for 600,000 single-tax regimen SMEs to access financing, many for the first time in their productive histories.” The SMEs can request credits beginning at ARS $3 million (USD $31,900) to ARS $30 million (USD $319,000), at a fixed interest rate of 20%. The repayment period is between 48 and 60 months, with a six-month grace period.