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Argentine lawmakers seek quorum to open debate on Fernandez's economic bill - Metro US

Argentine lawmakers seek quorum to open debate on Fernandez’s economic bill

Reuters

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Congressional lawmakers from the party of Argentina’s new president will seek to reach a quorum on Thursday to begin debate on the government’s new economic proposals, which include tax hikes that sparked street protests in the capital.

The bill, dubbed by the government the “Social Solidarity and Production Reactivation” project, seeks higher taxes on agricultural exports, personal property and foreign assets held abroad.

Export taxes on wheat and corn would be raised to 15% from 12%. The bill would also raise the tariff cap on soybean exports to 33% from 30%. Scheduled pension increases would be suspended for 180 days.

The government’s proposals, which were sent to Congress on Tuesday, seek funds to bolster social spending as the new administration of center-left President Alberto Fernandez grapples with annual inflation around 50% and an economy that is expected to contract for a third straight year in 2020.

“This law shows that we will not do a brutal fiscal expansion financed by the central bank,” Economy Minister Martin Guzman said Wednesday night in an interview with channel TN.

In an effort to gain support from the opposition and reach the quorum of 129 lawmakers needed to begin debate in Congress, members of Fernandez’s “Front for All” political party agreed on Wednesday to withdraw a controversial article in the bill that granted the executive branch broad powers to “redesign” government departments.

Hundreds of people in Buenos Aires protested on Wednesday against in the bill, which includes a blow to the middle class through a 30% tax on the purchase of foreign currencies or on the payment of services or goods bought abroad or on the internet.

If the bill is passed in the House it will be debated by Argentina’s Senate on Friday.

    

(Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; writing by Cassandra Garrison)

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