December 22, 2014
Opposition leaders, gov’t officials, businessmen gather at Council of Americas conference
The Council of Americas 11° conference in Buenos Aires City gathered government officials, opposition leaders with presidential ambitions and businessmen at the exclusive Alvear Palace Hotel to discuss the country’s political and economic situation.
Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri gave the opening remarks at the Council of Americas 11° annual conference, Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich and UCR lawmaker Ernesto Sanz followed.
Buenos Aires province Governor Daniel Scioli, Broad Front-UNEN leader Hermes Binner and Economy Minister Axel Kicillof also addressed the conference. Renewal Front’s lawmaker Sergio Massa was invited to the event but turned down the invitation at the last minute, local media reported.
“I am deeply concerned about what is going on with Argentine economy,” Macri said. “I don’t think this recession is a consequence of an external factor, as it was in 2009, but of a government’s mismanagement,” he stated.
The head of the PRO party questioned the government’s “budgetary mismanagement” which he said has caused “fiscal deficit and galloping inflation”.
The national chief of ministers in turn pointed to “external demand problems” as the cause for economic distress in Argentina’s economy and praised the policies implemented by the federal government to “mitigate job loss.”
“In 2013 we had the lowest unemployment rate of the last 30 years,” Capitanich stressed.
Following the kirchnerite official speech, UCR’s Sanz took the stage and called to recover “the value of the word ‘agreement’, which has been devaluated in Argentina.”
“The new leadership that is coming is not about confrontation, fight and subjugation but a democratic, tolerant one,” he stated in a clear reference to 2015 presidential elections.
Economy minister Kicillof, meanwhile, asserted during his presentation that Argentina would finish the year with a trade surplus, while emphasising that the principal challenge for the future was to continue industrial development.
"The challenge is sustaining the process of industrialisation," the politician underlined, pointing out that "between 2003 and 2013 manufacturing exports managed to rise to more than a third higher than the previous total, in the middle of a regional revitilisation."Kicillof added that the exploitation of unconventional hydrocarbon resources in Vaca Muerta "demonstrates the possibility of maintaining the Argentine people's production and lifestyle," and highlighting the reduction in public debt since 2003.
"It has gone down from a proportion of 166 percent to 40 percent, with regards to the relationship between GDP and commitments," he explained.
"But since a part of that is in pesos and with the state, right now the public debt in dollars with private interests is just 8 percent of GDP."
In his speech, Buenos Aires governor Scioli referred to today's national strike organised by opposition trade union leaders, and asked for the advances made in the last decade to be maintained despite the efforts of some sectors to derail them.
"Today is a strange day, a sad day," he told the audience in the Alvear hotel, before highlighting the "huge effort we have made in these years to put Argentina and its social mobility into action."
"Let us see businessmen with a socially responsible outlook, and unions acting with prudence, so they do not cause businesses to give up and shut down," he affirmed.
Scioli also stated that what was needed in the 2015 presidential elections was a "predictable, trustworthy" candidate, "not to take a jump into the unknown."