Argentina's economy minister Martin Guzman said in a television interview on Saturday that his country could not afford a new total quarantine and made it clear that the government would have to find another way to deal with the new stage of the covid-19 pandemic.
The minister stressed that the government would take different measures than in March last year. Let's look at what is happening now: we are still in a pandemic, but we have been growing for nine consecutive months of economic activity.
According to Guzman, Argentina is the economy that is recovering the most, he said. There are sectors that are of course suffering the effects of the pandemic but have been recovering very strongly.
The official insisted: In fact, we have revised upwards the growth forecast for 2020. It was 5.5% in the September 2020 projection and today it is 7%, which is also a cautious forecast because it pays to be cautious. But the reality is that the pandemic is there, the pandemic is hitting everyone, but the policies that were adopted in 2020 allowed us to be in a better situation than other countries in the region, having protected the labour force and capital in the economy.
However, he admitted on Sunday that an increase in utility rates was on the agenda. If you raise rates by single digits for everybody, the budget would not be met and the macroeconomic programme would not be met. That is not going to be done.
The plan is that those who need the current subsidy will continue to receive it, but those who can do without it will pay the full rate, to avoid a sharp jump in public spending on subsidies.
Guzmán also addressed the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and the statement by Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner about the country's inability to pay.
What the vice-president says is correct from the point of view that the more time we have to pay, the better. But, at the same time, we must seek agreements that allow us to have a clearer financial horizon and this is going to be a laborious task. It will take years to be able to be on the continent, with conditions such that Argentina clearly does not have any problems on the financial front, the minister explained.