ECONOMY EXTENSIVE REFORM PACKAGE

Macri signs import-friendly decree package to simplify, slash bureaucracy

The package is designed to attract investment by improving importers' access to local markets and authorises the ANSES welfare fund to invest in financial services, among other changes.

L-to-R: Pedro Inchauspe, Minister Francisco Cabrera and Pablo Clusellas (Production), and Pedro Sorop (Transport) announced an extensive presidential decree package in Buenos Aires on Wednesday January 11, 2018.
L-to-R: Pedro Inchauspe, Minister Francisco Cabrera and Pablo Clusellas (Production), and Pedro Sorop (Transport) announced an extensive presidential decree package in Buenos Aires on Wednesday January 11, 2018. Foto:Production Ministry twitter

An extensive presidential decree package aimed at speeding up President Mauricio Macri’s reform agenda was announced yesterday. 

The package is designed to attract investment by improving importers' access to local markets. It also authorises the ANSES welfare fund to invest in financial services, among other changes.

The national government hopes the measures, designed to "simplify" and slash the country's bureaucracy, will reduce productive costs by one percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over two years, Production Minister Francisco Cabrera told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

Some of the proposed change will be implemented from as early Thursday.

“Our goal is to lower the costs of the productive sector by one percent of GDP, or US$ 100 billion”, Cabrera said. He denied that the measures would mean more job losses in the public sector. Over a thousand national government workers have been sacked since early December.

Among the changes, the government will automate 314 import licences and create a so-called Secretariat for Production Simplification. It will also permit the ANSES welfare entity to invest its Guarantees and Sustainability fund in financial services including fiduciaries. 

The decree package includes measure that will affect the operations of the Central Bank, eight ministries (Modernisation, Production, Labour, Finance, Transport, Culture, Agriculture and Mining), as well as two decentralised state entities (ANSES and the Administrative Agency of State Assets).

A MIXED BAG

The decrees mean a mixed bag of small to large modifications for the country’s productive sectors and bureaucracy.

In the area of transport, the government aims to "reduce logistical costs" by 20 percent by allowing road trains to travel on specific road corridors which were previously prohibited and for trucks to carry an additional 10 tonnes, to a maximum of 60 tonnes. The package includes a decree that will allow ministries to open up ports without the authorisation of the president, while the commercial operations of nine airports were also authorised as the country begins preparing for the arrival in 2018 of a number of new airlines. 

In the area of commerce, businesses are set to enjoy greater flexibility in obtaining brands. And tender processes will no longer have to be published publicly in provincial government gazettes. 

Controversially, the government has weakened measures to punish businesses that infringe labour regulations by reducing the period of time a company or individual can be included on the Public Record of Employers with Labour Infractions (REPSAL) and removing firms or individuals who obstruct inspection processes. 

Inclusion on the REPSAL list for crimes including paying workers under the table or failing to pay benefits, prohibits business or individuals from accessing state benefits including grants and loans.

-TIMES/AGENCIES