Argentina's lower house approves Fernandez economic bill, to move to Senate

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Argentina’s lower house on Friday approved a sweeping bill of economic measures, including many tax hikes, proposed by the government of new President Alberto Fernandez.

With 134 votes in favor of the bill 110 against, the center-left government obtained enough support for its “Social Solidarity and Production Reactivation” project to move to the Senate.

Fernandez’s economic bill, the cornerstone of his governing program, seeks higher taxes on grains exports, personal property and foreign assets held abroad.

The project aims to maintain fiscal balance to guarantee the future payment of public debt - currently under renegotiation - and, at the same time, expand social spending to boost the economy as Argentina struggles with annual inflation over 50%, higher poverty and higher unemployment.

After a long debate in the lower house which began on Thursday, the bill is expected to move to the Senate, where the government holds a majority.

“We want to convey to those who are part of the domestic market, that this is a tool to start the economy and give them hope,” Sergio Massa, a member of Congress who is a Fernandez ally, said on Twitter. (Reporting by Nicolas Misculin; Writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Alison Williams)