On April 9 I had the pleasure of participating in the conference organized by CAME (Argentina Confederation of Medium Enterprises) to over 1000 entrepreneurs, representing 323 chambers of 23 provinces and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aries.
Speakers at the event were the Minister of Economy candidates for each of the major candidates for running for President: Rogelio Frigerio by Mauricio Macri; Miguel Peirano by Sergio Massa and Silvina Batakis by Daniel Scioli. Following is the summary of the day.
Presentation by Rogelio Frigerio (Grandson), with Mauricio Macri.
In his view, the problem of Argentina right now is a problem of trust. Confidence at all levels, ie personal, family level and institutional, nationally and internationally. The great work is to recover this trust. He said that Argentina has been having, for 50 years, the same problems: lack of credit, inflation, recession taxes, etc. Therefore, Frigerio believes that these are not the challenges to face in the next government because, according to him, these problems should be solved “easily” and immediately. The challenge is to find our vision as a country.
To rebuild the State, he says, the following must be achieved:
- Review tax poltics
- Attract investment
- Receive funding
- Put emphasis on education
- Improve social inclusion
- Normalise the macroeconomy
- Diversify the economy so that the country may grow
- Export products and services “embedded” with local intelligence
He also highlighted the need to improve relations with neighboring countries. International politics is badly damaged. “Of the 50 countries that grew most in the world, we only have embassies in 14”. Here, Frigerio points out, is where the role of the State should appear.
With respect to a fiscal reform, Frigerio said “we have to give tax relief to individuals and businesses. This can be done quickly”. Although he did not specify how, he said that the “dollar trap” can be quickly removed, despite what his opponents say. The lack of investment is a concern to businessmen and this issue should be addressed.
He also talked about regional economies. He felt that the “distance tax” must be a tackled issue. He explained that the cost of hauling goods from the provinces to Buenos Aires is very expensive. It costs more to send something from Salta to Buenos Aries than from Salta to any European city.
When the audience asked about Argentina’s oil company, YPF, Frigerio said that “he would do the opposite of what has been done”. He announced that Aranguren, President of Shell, will be integrating his team in the oil sector.
Presentation by Miguel Peirano, with Sergio Massa
As Frigerio, he gave much importance to regional economies, as they are sectors that create jobs. “SMEs will be strategic for the country’s future” he said. Changes are expected, as inflation has caused employment levels to stagnate.
In his opinion, Argentina has resources for the future and its debt in dollars for the future is low. He made a similar analysis than the rest of his colleagues, but he was not very accurate in diagnosing solutions, although it is difficult to know if it was a matter of exposure time or another reason.
He noted that Argentina is far below its potential. His integral plan includes:
- Promoting an investment shock and preserve equity.
- Returning to a unique type of change (in terms of dollar-peso politics).
- Reviewing the structure of taxes.
- Creating a *Development Banking,*like the one in Brazil
- Competing for capital and financing
- Having mortgage credit
- Lowering inflation
- Implementing specific fiscal measures (at this point he was descriptive)
- Remove exporting retentions
- Rethinking the Mercosur
- Rethinking the market with the European Union
- Review the commercial protection and free trade.
- Solving the lack of some raw inputs
Presentation by Silvina Batakis, with Daniel Scioli
She talked mostly about what Governor Scioli achieved during these years of his administration. Among the list of actions performed are the number of schools, roads, the creation of ARBA, etc. She explained that the Province accounts are in order and this is attracting investors.
She noted that there is industrial growth, achieved by a productive network of more stable labour. The challenge is to go deeper in the supply chain. She added that the Province of Buenos Aires generates between 37 and 39% of GDP but also has 34% of the poor.
Regarding the trade balance, she said that Argentina must increase exports, as this will mean a higher capital input. During their time in office, many credits for various municipalities were granted, but she recognized a high fiscal deficit. She also clarified that she would restore the tax on property transfer.
In conclusion, the three main candidates for Minister of Economy presented their views with regard to the concerns surrounding Argentina. With some specific proposals, but with a lack of depth in the details, a glimpse can be caught on the intention behind every party. Looking ahead to the upcoming primary elections in August, it may be useful to continue forming a criterium.