Saturday, June 6, 2020
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ARGENTINA | 20-02-2020 16:16

Government likely to increase utility rates in June, says Cafiero

Government will unfreeze public services rates starting from June, but increases will only hit “the sectors that can support them,” says Cabinet chief.

The government plans to lift the freeze on public service prices as from June, although the increases will only apply “to the sectors which can afford them,” Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero said Thursday.

Public service prices, whose rates were frozen for the first half of the year, will certainly increase then when a new scheme will be elaborated, Cafiero told Radio Metro in an interview.

The tariff freeze is due to end 180 days after the date on which Congress gave approval to the Economic and Social Emergency Law (just before Christmas), when the legislation no longer applies. The package included regulations freezing the billing of gas and electricity until June 30.

Cafiero guaranteed that the new pricing will “strongly” uphold the “social tariff” to protect the most vulnerable families. 

President Alberto Fernández, who took office on December 10, decided to freeze public service billing in order to slow down an inflation estimated at almost 53 percent in 2019. 

Nonetheless, during the meetings with the International Monetary Fund mission over the past week, Production Minister Matías Kulfas indicated that the utility rate freeze would not be permanent with hikes at “reasonable and accessible” levels. 

In the radio interview, the Cabinet chief indicated that the national government is in agreement with the comments of the International Monetary Fund at the close of its technical mission. 

"We are satisfied because some doubts that we had been raising were cleared up after our political space had been questioning this cycle of indebtedness under Macri'," he pointed out.

The cost of public utilities in Argentina, which had been heavily subsidised by the state during the three Kirchner presidencies between 2003 and 2015, soared after being updated to inflation by the previous president Mauricio Macri (2015-2019).

- TIMES/NA/PERFIL

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