Alberto Fernandez he admits that he is facing a pivotal moment. He knows that what happens in the next few weeks will seal the future of his presidency. It is in the midst of this scenario of uncertainty that the President seeks to send some signals that convey confidence. The first is that the imminent closing of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will not define the fate of Martín Guzmán: the Economy Minister is not leaving.
Not only that. There will be no oxygenation in the first line of his work team, according to a very high official source. Far from speculation, Guzmán is preparing for the stage that will begin after the closing of the chapter with the Fund. He has been working on his next goal for months in strict reserve: to get money. cool dollars.
Despite internal questions – the most serious problem is that his word lost support within the Government – the Minister of Economy will continue in his position. For the President, the head of the Palacio de Hacienda is “very valuable.” Fernández often repeats in private that he gave him “a toothpick and sent him to fight.”
The President recognizes the economist for some of the achievements of his administration, such as the agreement with private bondholders. He also hopes to conclude the IMF chapter to advance on what, according to what he warns in talks with his relatives, will be good news for Argentina in terms of international financing.
The same goes for the chief of staff, John Manzur. “Every day they throw it at me from Tucuman,” joked the head of state in recent days when reading a news item where they questioned the continuity of the coordinating minister. The Tucuman governor on leave will not leave the national administration either.
Both Guzmán and Manzur were the targets of severe questioning within the ruling party. To the disciple of the Nobel prize Joseph Stiglitz they accused him of hiding sensitive information about the understanding with the IMF. That they did know Cristina Kirchner, his son Máximo, and the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Serge Massa. They have been joined in recent weeks by voices from Alberto Fernández’s circle of trust.
Far from internalism, the President is devoted almost exclusively to the conclusion of the talks with the multilateral credit organization and is preparing for what he imagines will be a heated debate in Congress. as advanced THE NATION, Fernández will send the bill with the agreement to Parliament next week.
“The unity has to be above all”, summarizes close to the president. But beyond the high-sounding speeches that will emanate from Parliament, he is convinced that the bill will be approved.
In a game of tweezers, he spoke with several governors who pledged their support and opened a dialogue channel with La Cámpora that included three gestures: he recomposed his relationship with the Minister of the Interior, Peter’s Wado; had an exchange of messages with Maximo Kirchner, and closed the week with the head of the PAMI, Luana Volnovich, who remained at the center of the controversy after his trip to the Caribbean.
Thus, it seeks to encapsulate the effect of the resignation of Vice President Cristina Kirchner’s son as head of the ruling bloc in the Chamber of Deputies. With the former president until Friday she had not spoken. His last conversation was when the President landed in China two weeks ago.
RATES AND INFLATION
Among the main problems that will have to be addressed after the agreement, two are imposed: tariffs and inflation. Of the two issues, the increase in public services will be an internal debate that will leave wounded. The fight is between Guzmán and La Cámpora. That is, between Alberto Fernández and Cristina Kirchner. Until now, the will of the vice president has always prevailed.
Close to the President, they warn that the tariff segmentation prepared by the Undersecretary of Electric Energy, Federico Basualdo, and the Enargas comptroller, Federico Bernal, will not be applied. two key men in the energy area who answer to Cristina Kirchner. According to what they had revealed, in the first instance, it was centralized in some 500,000 users in the metropolitan area –properties where the square meter exceeds US$3,700–, who will stop paying a subsidized subscription to face total consumption.
But the President and Guzmán understood that this formula generates inequities. Now, a scheme combining property value and income is being evaluated. “We are moving forward,” says a front-line official.
According to the preliminary draft accessed by LA NACION, the total subsidy for those who receive the social rate will be maintained. This is 35% of users, according to official sources. The wealthiest 15% of the country will pay the full rate. While the other 50% will have their subsidy reduced according to the income and property value formula.
The rise in prices, meanwhile, especially in food, set off alarms. This week the data for January was known, 3.9%; the February projection is similar. In the Casa Rosada they already assume that inflation will remain at current levels for the next two years. At most it will go down a bit.
“It is the same inflation that left [Mauricio] Macri”, they explain with resignation near the head of state. In the agreement with the multilateral credit organization there will be a mention on the matter, although no goals will be specified.
Although it is a problem, inflation also serves Guzmán’s plans. It is that among the economists they warn that, paradoxically, inflation would help the head of the Treasury to try to meet the fiscal goals of a future agreement because it would generate a liquidation of spending.
In the meantime, The President has already begun to sketch what will be his speech on March 1 before the Legislative Assembly. Although he will mention the agreement with the IMF and the impact of the pandemic, his objective is to talk about the future. He also decided to return to the streets and close encounters, as he did after the electoral coup. “Being with people energizes him,” they say from his surroundings.
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Alberto Fernández maintains Martín Guzmán despite criticism and endorses him in his plan to increase rates