No end for the US dollar clamp in Argentina. According to the Buenos Aires media the government of President Cristina Fernandez is preparing a set of new measures to further limit Argentines from holding the US currency but also from spending abroad on tourism.
In the next seven days the Argentine tax revenue office AFIP is expected to announce the measures which apparently will include extra levies on the purchase of tickets to fly abroad, tourism packages and shopping at free-shops.
Last week it was made official that Argentine holders of both credit and debit cards will have to pay a 15% surcharge for expenditures overseas supposedly deductible when the final annual statement on taxes. The same 15% applies to purchases on line with cards.
The Buenos Aires media reports that the final ironing out of the package is being reviewed by the central bank and the Argentine Tourism Chamber. What has yet to be decided is the percentage to be charged, and the objective is to close “all possible loopholes for the outflow of US dollars”.
“We are trying to compensate all the dollar escape points to help compensate the strong need for foreign currency which the Argentine economy demands”, according to one of the sources quoted in the report.
Likewise as part of the grip and restrictions the Argentine government published on Monday in the nation’s Official Gazette, a measure laying out rules for government officials in official trips out of the country.
According to the new rules, government staff and officials are to receive “only the currency of the destination country they are to visit as opposed to dollars which so far was the case that caused some fuzz as it was detected that many officials found there a leak to buy/collect dollars at the always convenient Banco Nación's official rate, which is currently banned for regular citizens.
The national government stated the new policy is aimed towards “ensuring the equal treatment for all Argentine citizens.”
“Trips and official missions abroad have the objective of representing the Argentine State”, the government said today in the Official Gazette and added that official travelling is subjected to a previous measure.
“Those officials should be abided by the institutions appointed to authorize those missions and official trips”.
President Cristina Fernández has been imposing currency exchange controls since November last year which have since been tightened considerably.
Apparently the last batch of measures can be traced to recent data on tourist movements in Argentina and which Cristina Fernandez underlined with “something more than surprise last week”, when she was informed by the Ministry of Tourism that last July the number of Argentines travelling overseas was up 20.2% over the same month a year ago.
“I have the latest figures from Tourism, how many arrived, how many travelled overseas and how much they spend”, said the Argentine president. “And although we received fewer tourists: what a surprise: July last year when the boom, 165.239 Argentines travelled overseas, while this last July, 198.867”.
And not only that “they spent 25.9% more than last year; here is one of those myths about Argentina: this is only one of the many examples of the ‘discouragement campaign by the big media’ intent in giving bad news and criticizing my administration”.
According to the official stats presented by Cristina Fernandez the number of tourists that arrived in Argentina during July dropped 7.5% compared to the same month in 2011, and totalled 215,511 people, while the Argentine citizens that travelled abroad climbed 20.2%.
The Indec national statistics bureau said that the expense of tourists was of 295.3 million dollars, dropping 7.6% in the seventh month of the year.
Meanwhile, Argentine tourists' expenses abroad reached 276.2 million dollars, 25.9% higher than the volume registered in the same month last year.