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Macri, Binner criticize gov’t over vultures

Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri (left) and Broad Front-UNEN leader Hermes Binner (right).

Broad Front-UNEN leader says he prefers ‘negotiations,’ takes aim at City mayor

Two prominent national opposition figures chimed in on the country’s legal battles with holdout hedge funds yesterday, with the main discrepancy between them boiling down to whether Argentina should simply pay up or sit down and negotiate.

Be done with the debt issue once and for all, seemed to be the line taken by Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri, who described the debate over whether Argentina is or isn’t in default, and the comings and goings of the plan to resolve the issue, “as going against economic activity, which is people’s jobs.”

Despite the possibility of the country coughing up US$15 billion — half its foreign currency reserves — in the wake of the broader consequences of US judge Thomas Griesa’s rulings against Argentina, the PRO party leader reiterated his belief that Argentina should pay.

However, on that note, the other opposition leader to put his two cents in yesterday, Socialist lawmaker Hermes Binner disagreed with Macri, saying the Broad Front-UNEN bloc to which he belongs maintains that it’s “necessary to negotiate because we can neither enter default nor do what Macri suggests to pay no matter what.”

Payment is part of ‘our philosophy’

In dialogue with Radio Mitre yesterday, Macri said the government had had seven years to negotiate. He also seemingly implied the country should now simply pay the so-called “vulture funds” when he defended his decision to support the ADEBA private banks association’s attempt to transfer up to US$250 million as an escrow deposit or as a way of purchasing bonds owned by holdouts, mainly by Paul Singer’s NML.

“We and the Banco Ciudad decided to support” it because “our philosophy is to try and help because we’re concerned with helping people live better,” he said, adding that he saw the country’s current recession “advancing.”

The PRO party leader’s position on the debt saga has drawn criticism. Cabinet Chief in BA province Governor Daniel Scioli’s administration, Alberto Pérez, suggested yesterday that Macri “as president, would have been the roadrunner, off to pay the vulture funds,” as soon as his could. He also claimed that “if you shine light on Macri’s governance, you see nothing.”

But the criticism went both ways.

“The government had time to do a lot of things to avoid reaching this outcome,” Macri continued. “I think the government unfortunately has to resolve a very complex problem, one which the same government has basically fabricated because seven years without resolving the issue and stepping close to a border where you find yourself with fewer options, is not the best strategy.”

A presidential hopeful for 2015 — like Binner — he also took aim at the government’s handling of the latest comings and goings in the case.

“The president (Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) doesn’t say the default isn’t important, the president says there’s no default,” he charged.

“It doesn’t matter what I say, what matters is what the world says. We here have to reach a solution to this issue because the current situation isn’t helping.”

‘Dialogue necessary’

For his part, Binner told the Brisas radio station that “dialogue, more than being possible, is necessary but the president doesn’t believe this,” he said. “That’s why she has this attitude. She talks about dialogue but doesn’t open any doors.”

He said the government’s management of the situation had been riddled with “insufficiencies.”

The former Santa Fe governor also outlined his concerns over the economic impact on the failed negotiations over the debt.

“This crisis is taking jobs with it. It’s a serious problem that is going to have consequences which won’t be easy to resolve since they’ll have an impact on people’s lives,” he suggested.

Opposition leaders are treading carefully on the “vulture” funds issue, seeing President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner slight rebound in popularity as she continues to dig in her heels on a deal with holdouts.

Binner yesterday said “we stand before a group to whom the term ‘vulture’ fund fits very well.”

Herald staff with DyN

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