World News

Argentina's Congress to start debating economic emergency bill on Tuesday

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina’s government will send a bill to Congress on Tuesday including an array of proposals to increase taxes, including on overseas transactions and personal property, as new President Alberto Fernández seeks funds to salve a stalled economy.

A spokesman for new cabinet chief Santiago Cafiero confirmed the plan to send the bill to legislators, which is expected to give the government ammunition to bolster social spending amid recession and rising poverty.

Fernandez’s administration has already announced plans to hike taxes on farm products, Argentina’s main export, and to bring back a so-called “tourist tax” on overseas expenditure. It will also cut drug prices in agreement with industry.

Fernández, who took office last week after beating conservative Mauricio Macri in an October ballot, is grappling with annual inflation close to 55% and an economy that is expected to contract for a third straight year in 2020.

Fernandez said in an interview with local television channel Telefé on Monday that utilities prices would be frozen until June 30 next year. Price hikes for power and transport had stoked inflation and rising social anger under Macri.

The President added his government planned to make payments to retirees and anti-poverty subsidies by the end of the year.

His economic team is also already negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other creditors on new payment terms on around $100 billion in debt, which Fernandez said Argentina cannot currently pay.

Reporting by Nicolas Misculin; Writing by Adam Jourdan; editing by Grant McCool and Sandra Maler