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Lavagna criticizes Kirchner's meddling with the economy

Saturday, March 31st 2007 - 21:00 UTC
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Dr. Roberto Lavagna Dr. Roberto Lavagna

Argentina's current administration has no foreign policy, government meddling is threatening the economy and concentration of power in the Executive is not healthy for democratic institutions points out Roberto Lavagna former Economy Minister and the leading opposition candidate for next October presidential election.

Considered the main architect of the Argentine recovery from the melting of the economy and massive default of 2001/02, Lavagna is working to unify the opposition in an only candidacy to compete with President Nestor Kirchner and his wife, since one of the two will be running as the incumbent, and both have high public opinion polls showings. Interviewed by the Spanish daily El Pais, Lavagna says that Argentina's foreign policy is a constant "zigzag", one day in New York talking to investors and the following month letting a foreign president (Venezuela's Chavez) organize from Argentina a political rally to pound on a third country. "Actually he's on relatively stable talking terms with only two presidents, --not even two countries--, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Spain's Rodríguez Zapatero", said Lavagna who nevertheless anticipates troubles for Spain because "the president (Kirchner) has the electoral motivated intention of taking over part of Repsol-YPF" in spite of the announcements to the contrary. And when this happens, "Mr. Rodriguez Zapatero either accepts the situation or he will have a big disappointment". Lavagna went on to say that Chavez' Venezuela is polarizing Latinamerica with Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and Peru on one side and Venezuela, Bolivia, possibly Ecuador, and Argentina on the other. "This division impedes any serious dialogue with United States", warns the former Economy minister who was dropped from the Kirchner team in October 2005. As to his candidacy which is not identified with any specific party, Lavagna says it surged "naturally from society", particularly when he begun pointing out "deviations in government policies". Different social sectors "reacted positively to my remarks and that led on to the current situation". Lavagna pointed out that the model he set on track back in 2002 (under caretaker president Duhalde and before Kirchner) has begun to show cracks mainly because of government meddling with the economy. "The state is becoming minority shareholder in several companies, the last of which a 20% in a bridge; why has the Argentine state to buy from government cronies a minority share in a bridge?" asked Lavagna. He also pointed out to government intervention in the country's flag carrier Aerolineas Argentina (under Spanish ownership), in the airports and waterworks concessions, plus control of prices and an erratic foreign exchange policy "which had led to uncertainty and a drop in investment". And what else has changed since Lavagna left government asks the reporter. "Institutionally serious things have happened: the reiteration of special powers for the federal budget management; changing the Magistrates Council; meddling with the Financial Information Unit which controls money laundering and funds for terrorism, plus replacing technical staff with political militants in several government offices". As to Mr. Lavagna's program, realign Argentina with the pragmatic side in Latinamerica and boost a globally integrated Mercosur; no meddling with the economy such as buying assets with no strategic value or handing public utilities to unions, "in other words back to the model launched in April 2002. Cracks are appearing but I think we're on time to check them and avoid unpleasant surprises at the end of 2007 or in 2008".

Categories: Politics, Argentina.

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