March 9, 2014
In crisis, opposition demands talks
The peso’s steep devaluation last week and the subsequent liberalization of the limits on foreign exchange purchase for savings has left the opposition scrambling on how to react — with lots of demands for wide-ranging talks but little in the way of proposals.
Lawmakers belonging to Sergio Massa’s Renewal Front were par for the course yesterday, demanding the national government revisit the 2014 Budget estimates and deal with inflation, while representatives from the ruling Victory Front (FpV) replied the move was “nothing but fireworks” and accused opposition leaders of not coming up with a solution to the country’s woes.
“We need to modify the budget. Two months after being passed it already looks like it’s from another century,” Renewal Front lawmaker Darío Giustozzi said during a news conference yesterday morning.
“The galloping inflation rates and new problems following the shock devaluation urge the government to immediately adopt a coordinated set of measures,” Ricardo Delgado, one of the heads of Massa’s economic team, added.
Staunch Kirchnerite leader Diana Conti thought that attack was the best defence.
“Talk is cheap, but someone needs to be sitting in the seat of power running the country — and we’re running the country,” Conti told the Herald.
The FpV lawmaker acknowledged the fact that the dollar estimate for the 2014 budget the government’s allies approved in November — 6.33 pesos per dollar — showed some “differences” with the current market value of the currency, “but this situation does not call for any changes on the budget the way it was approved.”
Conti dismissed opposition statements as “nothing but fireworks” and confirmed the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration will not discuss re-opening the budget.
“During the extraordinary sessions, Kirchnerism will deal with the legislative proposals set by the Executive Branch, we will not make room for their (Massa’s) pretensions,” she added.
Better call Capitanich
Radical Party (UCR) lawmaker Oscar Aguad said he agreed in principle with the political move of the Renewal Front, but demanded something different from the national government.
“The budget thought of a dollar rate of 6.33 pesos, now the dollar is around 8 pesos,” Aguad told the Herald. “It would be more simple if we call the Cabinet chief to tell the Lower House of Congress what he’s going to do about it.”
Back in November, Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich had met with heads of the different Senate caucuses and promised he would attend Congress at least once a month to brief lawmakers on major national topics.
Yesterday noon, Darío Giustozzi headed a news conference in the Annex building belonging to the Lower House of Congress. He was joined by other Renewal Front lawmakers such as CGT representative Héctor Daer and former Buenos Aires province Governor Felipe Solá.
“We’ve been saying the domestic economy was feverish for a long time,” Giustozzi told reporters, holding a thermometer in his hands. “Now the fever has turned into infection and the gangrene has progressed.”
But instead of presenting a package of its own to be discussed on the floor, Massa’s allies limited themselves to demand the government present an anti-inflation package.
Additional reporting by Marina Wertheimer