Argentina's Lower House passed the 2023 budget bill in the wee hours of Wednesday. Among the most significant changes was an Airport Security tax which will reportedly help support the Airport Security Police (PSA).
The ruling Frente de Todos coalition got the bill through by 123 votes to 122. The opposition Together for Change (Juntos por el Cambio - JxC) bloc blamed Liberal Congressman Javier Milei for the approval of the tax to be charged upon the purchase of airline tickets.
Tickets for regional travel (to South American destinations) will include the Airport Use Tax (US$ 25.16 at all airports); the Immigration and Customs Tax (US$ 10); the Security Tax (US$ 8); the Income Tax Perception (45%); the PAIS Tax (30%); the Perception on account of Personal Property (25%); the Income Tax advanced payment (5%); and the National Tourism Board Tax (7%). The new tax will also be charged for domestic air travel.
The bill was submitted by Kirchnerite Deputy Paula Penacca of Máximo Kirchner's La Cámpora group. But it would have not been approved had Deputies Gustavo Santos (a former Minister of Tourism under President Mauricio Macri) or Milei been there to cast their votes and tie or even reverse the outcome. Hence, JxC refers to the new measure as the Milei tax.
Opposition lawmakers fired heavy social media flak against Milei, who usually speaks against the creation of new taxes.
Because of the Libertarians' absence, the tax increase was approved, Deputy Paula Oliveto complained. Also missing the chance to vote were Libertarian Congresswomen Carolina Píparo and Victoria Villarruel.
They shout a lot, but at the time of the vote they go up in smoke, said UCR Deputy Karina Banfi. Had they been there, we would have rejected the creation of the airport tax rate; they say taxes must be lowered but then they go to sleep, she added.
Milei, who intends to run for president in 2023, also made the news this week for his controversial proposal regarding the Malvinas/Falklands Islands during a TV show late Monday: Nobody has a proposal for this; I do. Like the agreement between England and China for Hong Kong, my proposal is through diplomatic channels, he argued.
We have to do the same [as Hong Kong], but taking into account the will of the people who live on the islands. They are people who live in a developed country and not in a miserable one, as we do.
You have to reach a long-term agreement whereby the islands are handed over to Argentina, but without violence and that the position of the people who live there is taken into account.