July 23, 2014
‘CFK is open to discussing income tax’
Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich talks for eight hours in first apperance before Lower House
Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich yesterday signalled that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner would be “willing to study initiatives” issued by Congress to lower income tax rates for the highest earners during his presentation yesterday at the Lower House of Congress.
His comments, which included the condition that “any proposal must analyze the impact” on the state’s coffers, came two days after Capitanich said that no changes were being assessed by the government to the income tax rates.
Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa is set to formally present a bill that would exempt monthly salaries that are lower than 19,000 pesos from paying income tax. Fernández de Kirchner increased the income tax rate floor to 15,000 pesos last year.
Sources within Massa’s camp told DyN news agency that the bill would also bring in automatic adjustments to compensate for inflation. The dissident CGT and other opposition blocs have been requesting similar measures and presenting their own bills in the past.
Capitanich highlighted that it was up to Congress to generate proposals for further review by the Executive Branch.
Capitanich also recognized the government needed to do more on crime.
“The crime problem is an issue that forms part of the public agenda, but it is necessary to improve even more and that’s a challenge,” the Cabinet chief said.
As the session was about to end after eight hours, Victory Front (FpV) caucus leader Juliana Di Tullio, fired at an unnamed bloc of having an “affable, almost friendly style” but of espousing “violent and hateful content.” Her target seemed clear: Sergio Massa’s Renewal Front.
She also took aim at several opposition leaders without naming them, saying that those who have presidential ambitions should be present. Socialist Hermes Binner and UCR’s Julio Cobos were out of the country yesterday while UNEN’s Elisa Carrió and Massa were not in the chamber for Capitanich’s initial presentation.
The Radical Party, represented by its caucus president Mario Negri, asked a barrage of questions including but not limited to the new INDEC calculation methodologies for inflation and GDP growth, the devaluation of the peso, the role of Army chief César Milani and the efforts against drug trafficking.
Capitanich’s responses focused on a walkthrough of the new methods used to measure key indicators. The Cabinet chief faced so many questions that he was not able to answer them all, but vowed to get back to the UCR lawmakers within five days.
In comparison to the relatively tame exchanges between Negri and Capitanich, the next round of statements and questions from lawmaker Darío Giustozzi in representation of the Renewal Front bloc elicited a stronger response from Capitanich. Focusing on insecurity, Giustozzi queried the Cabinet chief on the “lack of an effective policy” against drug trafficking and why the Citizen Security programme had not been continued.
Capitanich responded that there are approximately 108,000 active police and security agents and that the government has made it a priority to increase the number of personnel working on the matter, but that “this is not resolved exclusively with police cars and cameras” and that it was also necessary to “improve the basic social infrastructure.”
Capitanich categorically rejected that the government is considering a law that would give security forces the right to shoot down unidentified planes suspected of smuggling narcotics into Argentina on the grounds that it “would establish capital punishment without due process.”
The comments were in response to the PRO caucus, which asked about the possibility of such a measures and pointed to a United Nations document suggesting that Argentina is now globally the third largest exporter of cocaine.
Capitanich answered the questions from lawmakers after his first report to the Lower House of Congress on the Executive’s activities and programmes, as required by the Constitution.
His presentation to the Lower House, which follows a marathon session at the Senate on March 12, followed a similar pattern and expounded on the government’s achievements in the fields of health, education, science and technology, and the positive impact on social indicators linked to programmes such as the Universal Child Allowance (AUH).
Capitanich also highlighted the importance of policies leading to “energy self-sufficiency” that has YPF as “its flagship enterprise” for the increase in production of oil, natural gas. The former Chaco governor said that the presence of public investment in YPF plays an “irreplaceable role to achieve systemic competitiveness.”
Herald staff with DyN, Télam