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Argentine President Javier Milei has submitted a sweeping state reform plan to Congress, with measures such as tax amnesties and restrictions on protests, opening a new front in the libertarian economist’s battle to rapidly reshape the South American country.
Coming a week after Milei issued a wide-ranging emergency decree aimed at deregulating Argentina’s economy, the new bill addresses the four policy areas – tax, criminal, electoral and party system – that presidents cannot not implemented by decree. That significantly expands his to-do list in Congress, where he holds only a small minority of seats and opposition lawmakers have vowed to overturn the executive order and challenge Milei’s ambitious agenda.
The bill, made up of 664 articles, proposes to allow Argentines to register undeclared assets at home and abroad without paying heavy taxes, to eliminate the system of proportional representation in Congress, to impose tougher legal sanctions for those who organize protests that block roads and grant new security powers. ministry to limit demonstrations.
He also proposes that Congress cede to the presidency until the end of 2025 part of the legislative power in areas such as taxation, pensions, energy and security.
Since coming to power earlier this month, Milei’s accusation of radically overhauling the government and economy was initially met with some resistance at home. The country’s powerful unions organized thousands of demonstrations in several cities, including Buenos Aires, on Wednesday to oppose the decree relaxing labor market rules.
Milei argued that Argentina’s worst economic crisis in two decades, which has pushed annual inflation above 160 percent, constitutes a national emergency. He emphasized the mandate from voters — who gave him 56 percent of the vote in a November runoff election — to take drastic action to resolve the problem.
Congress must approve the bill Milei introduced on Wednesday for it to become law. The decree will, however, remain in force unless the lower house and Senate vote against it.
If that happens, Milei said in an interview Tuesday night that he would call a non-binding referendum “so (Congress) can explain to me why they are against the people.” He also accused some lawmakers of “seeking bribes” in exchange for votes, without giving names.
Milei’s rapid reforms constitute a “very bold strategy,” said Lucas Romero, director of political consultancy Synopsis. “He made more decisions in less time than any other president. . . simultaneously triggering many complex and substantial political processes.
“The question is whether he will (now) move towards consensus-seeking, or whether he continues to intensify this conflict between himself and the rest of Argentine politicians, which could lead us down the path of political instability,” he added.
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