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Argentine President appoints new ministers; measures coming up in coming days

Tuesday, September 21st 2021 - 09:37 UTC
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President Fernández seeks to bring answers to people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic President Fernández seeks to bring answers to people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

Argentine President Alberto Fernández Monday took the oath of office to the new members of his cabinet, with whom he intends to reconfigure his Government following a resounding loss at September 12's Mandatory, Open and Simultaneous (PASO) elections and its following political crisis.

The Fernández administration also unveiled a set of Keynesian measures designed to put money into the pockets of Argentines consumers with which to wash up its deteriorated image with the Nov. 14 mid-term elections in sight.

However, analysts agree that blaming the defeat on the economic crisis (42% poverty, 10% unemployment coupled with one of the highest inflation rates worldwide 32% in the first eight months of 2021) is not enough, because no money can cover Fernández's parties at the Presidential residence at a time he had ordered the entire country to remain isolated at their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic to which government leaders seemed immune.

To make matters worse, Argentina must pay the International Monetary Fund (IMF) a capital maturity of US $ 1.9 billion by Sept. 22 and yet a similar disbursement in December.

The gradual measures are aimed at recovering consumption and should also work as a sign of support to Economy Minister Martín Guzmán, who has survived the major cabinet reshuffle. Guzmán's first target will reportedly be those who despite having a job and a steady income have already hit poverty lines.

However, many economists have warned about the likely inflationary consequences of injecting large amounts of pesos into the market.

“What the people need is to have money in their pockets, that they can afford them, that they give them their salary, that we fulfil the promises we made to the people,” said Senator Juliana Di Tullio, a politician loyal to former President and current Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK), who is visibly behind the Government's reshaping.

“The solution is not to divide us,” said Alberto Fernández during the cabinet ceremony. “Debates have never affected me,“ he added regarding his ideological differences with CFK.

Observers have also highlighted the contradictions among the new ministers. Juan Manzur, the new Cabinet Chief who had to leave his position as Governor of the province of Tucumán, is a die-hard Catholic who opposes abortion and has taken steps in that direction within his province as well as during his tenure as Health Minister under CFK, is now a part of an administration which pushed before Congress the legal termination of unwanted pregnancies.

The Head of State also said changes ”always have a unique meaning, to move towards a better project.“

”They are intended to respond to a part of the Argentine constituency which has been affected by the pandemic so that the economic growth which is happening, has not reached them with the speed that we wanted it to,“ he went on.

”We want to be part of a country that integrates and functions to get those who have been left behind out of postponement. It is no coincidence that we preferred that a northern governor take over as Cabinet Chief of Staff,” said the President about Manzur.

The new ministers are: Santiago Cafiero (Foreign Affairs), Aníbal Fernández (Security); Jaime Perzyck (Education); Daniel Filmus, (Science); Julián Domínguez (Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries). Juan Ross has also been appointed as the new Presidential spokesperson.

After the ceremony, Fernández reviewed with Cafiero Tuesday's speech to be delivered virtually before the United Nations Assembly and which will focus on global financing.

Meanwhile, Manzur announced that “economic and health announcements” are coming up shortly, after meeting with Health Minister Carla Vizzotti.

Categories: Economy, Politics, Argentina.

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