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April 16, 2014

IDEA Colloquy 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

'45% of those in attendance are company CEO's,' IDEA head

By Liliana Franco, from Mar del Plata

For 50 years now, the IDEA Colloquy looks to gather businessmen from different sectors for different encounters. These encounters, which started off with a select group at first, have become the mega-event of the business world. "Over 900 businessmen have signed up, challenging past years' records," confirmed Gustavo Ripoll, IDEA president. He added that "45 percent of those in assistance are the heads of the main companies in the country."

Several factors could be influencing the level of rising interest in businessmen or CEO's towards visiting Mar del Plata. One of these is the presence of ex presidents, such as José María Aznar and Tabaré Vázquez. Also, Buenos Aires Province Governor Daniel Scioli is also assisting and, although he habitually inaugurates the colloquy, his presence is now seen as part of a political agenda that could lead him to the presidency by which he differentiates himself from the Kirchnerite sector, which decided against official attendance.

Actually, during the first years of Néstor Kirchner's presidency, ministers would regularly attend these encounters, with Roberto Lavagna, Carlos Tomada or ex Cabinet Chief Alberto Fernández having been present. Kirchner's distance came as a result of the 2005 declarations made by Alberto Coto, referring to salary pressures and possible inflationary side effects. Coto was able to mend his relations with the government, but IDEA authorities were unable to do so. In this same context, current presidential candidate Felipe Solá, who during the aforementioned period was Buenos Aires Province Governor, decided not to attend and remain in line with Néstor Kirchner's tendencies. Roberto Lavagna, however, known for his lack response to these types of governmental "suggestions," spoke about the economic model that he himself implemented and differentiated himself even more from the government. Lavagna left his post in 2005.

The businessmen took advantage of various breaks to discuss, both on and off the record, their concerns. This year, the proposal made by the CGT labour confederation to distribute 10 percent of company earnings amongst employees will garner a large part of the criticisms.

Ripoll, at one point, warned that the proposal "could scare off investors." Habitually, inflation and salary pressures are recurring topics at this kind of meeting, and this year will unlikely be an exception. At the end of this week, the official data from the INDEC statistics bureau with regard to price indexes will be made known, and these are numbers that will surely provoke more than one ironic comment.

• Bicentennial

The programme's objective was to reflect the importance of the Bicentennial celebrated in Argentina this year alongside IDEA's 50 th anniversary. Thus, the colloquy hosts topics such as The Businessman, the Heart of Development, and projects developed by Business Professor Guillermo D'Andrea on the Argentine World of Business will be presented. Afterwards, representatives from different business sectors such as Hugo Luis Biolcati, head of the Argentine Rural Society, will take part in a dialogue. Also present for this dialogue will be Daniel Funes, from La Rioja Province, head of the COPAL food product industry coordinator company and vice president of the OIE international employees' organization Cristiano Rattazzi, and the head of Fiat. They will be discussing the role of union organizations within businesses. One of the questions that they will try to respond will be whether or not businesses entities should be passive and adapt to the "models" applied at the moment or whether they should participate in tilting the balance towards one stance or another.

Younger businessmen will have the chance to tell audiences what their vision is for Argentina. Jorge Aguado, head of Young IDEA and representative of the Argentine Endeavor Foundation, Ignacio Stegmann, head of 3M Argentina, and José Urtubey, head of Celulosa Argentina, will be speaking.

On Friday, the political issues will be discussed with an initiation from Sergio Berensztein, head of the Poliarquía Consultores, and he will be accompanied by Daniel Sabsay, co-founder of the Sabsay Neirmark Lawfirm. Carlos Waisman, professor of sociology and international studies at the University of California, San Diego, will take part in the debate entitled "The Role of the Republican State."

This year, those in attendance seem optimistic about national economic growth and worried about inflation and salaries. The stronger criticisms will go towards the pressures being placed by CGT head Hugo Moyano, who will be leading a rally on Friday at the River Plate Stadium to commemorate Loyalty Day under the theme of "The hour for employees."

Although the government supports the IDEA Colloquy, this doesn't mean that they are not closely monitoring everything that is said there. At Government House, politicians are convinced that it is an opposition-led forum, a prejudice which, along with strong support from official lawmakers, leads to the fact that only opposition leaders will be seen in the halls of the Sheraton, such as ex president of Argentine Eduardo Duhalde and Vice President Julio Cobos.

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