March 10, 2014
Farmers stage lockout, protest
Over property tax bill in Buenos Aires province
Last night the Buenos Aires province Lower House failed to pass into law a land property tax reform bill presented by the provincial Executive and resisted by farmers. The bill was approved by the provincial Senate, but the ensuing session in the Lower House collapsed due to lack of quorum despite it being controlled by the ruling Kirchnerites.
The property tax hike would have added resources of about 2.685 billion pesos per year, of which nearly 900 million pesos were going to be distributed between the municipalities. The bill also included a revision of farm land, an increase in the rural land tax, gross income and other taxes, apart from eliminating the exemption for co-ops.
Opposition national Senator Jaime Linares (FAP-Buenos Aires province) said that the “tax that (governor Daniel) Scioli makes us pay is what he does not dare ask the central government for.”
“Scioli and the provincial branch of Peronism are aiming for a new adjustment of five billion (pesos) per year and is still far away from balancing the budget,” Linares said.
According to the president of the Argentine Rural Association, Hugo Biolcati, having a reform that “would increase tax by over 1000 per cent would make it impossible to pay the personal property tax. This reform could have left out of the system a lot of small and medium producers.”
“They are using a Rural Property tax to increase the land tax, but we don’t sell land, we sell wheat, maize, beef and milk,” Biolcati said, and considered that the bill is a “consequence of the National government pressure on the province, hence the pressure on the producers”.
A delegation of rural leaders from CARBAP, SRA, CONINAGRO and FAA entered the provincial Legislature building in La Plata to hold meetings with representatives of the different members of the Lower House and Senate. Kirchnerite lawmakers did not meet with them.
Kirchnerite Senator Nora de Lucía sustained that an increase on the rural property tax constitutes a “progressive wealth tax and no one can think that this is not income distribution.”
“The rural property tax is totally distorted and the Executive has the political decision of adapting the land value to those of 2012,” she said. She also added that “the farm also asks for more roads, hospitals and rural schools and that’s why it’s time for a change, and there is a political decision that in a fair and equitable society we all must support this bill”.
Provincial representative Gonzalo Atanasof sustained that the tax reform to the rural sector “is incredible” and assured that “we can not continue to give in to the National government because the ones who end up paying are the people from Buenos Aires province”.
The day did not pass without incidents. Yesterday morning while the bill was being debated in the Senate farm activists threw stones and bottles against the Legislature building while others tried to break into the building through the door on Calle 8 between 51 and 53, in La Plata. They clashed inside with members of the police force and members of the Kirchnerite activist group La Cámpora. The farm activists were thrown out of the building with the doors being locked afterwards. Some minor injuries were reported by both sides of the confrontation.
“My most absolute disavowal against the aggressions committed by the La Cámpora militants toward the farmers, who were trying to voice their discontent with the tax reform sponsored by the provincial governor” said dissident Peronist national Deputy Eduardo Amadeo.
- Herald staff with news agencies