A decisive week begins for the national government. In the Senate, the treatment of the agreement to refinance the debt contracted during the presidency of Mauricio Macri with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which already has half a sanction from the Chamber of Deputies, will begin. The Minister of Economy, Martín Guzmán, will appear before the legislators of the Budget and Treasury Commission to answer questions about the content of the project. As in Deputies, the Front of All (FdT) has different opinions in the block and it is discounted that there will be votes against in the ruling party. The opposition anticipated that it will support the agreement and facilitate its approval. The times press for the next debt expiration on March 22, which forces the Senate to rush the times in the enclosure.
“Each senator will be able to decide his vote,” they assured PageI12 from the bloc of the ruling party that is in the middle of a debate on how to face the treatment of the project so that the agreement with the IMF becomes law. Despite the internal differences in the bloc, government officials and senators close to President Alberto Fernández confidently await the approval of the agreement with the opposition votes for Thursday or Friday. The truth is It is estimated that around 15 pro-government senators –a total of 35–, those closest to Vice President Cristina Kirchner, will vote against or abstain. A scenario similar to that of the Chamber of Deputies where 1 out of 3 legislators from the Front of All -41 out of 118- did not support the refinancing of the debt contracted by Mauricio Macri. The government will again depend on Together for Change. The second force in the upper house will contribute around 30 votes against about 20 of the ruling partywho largely answer to the governors.
Guzmán and other government officials will attend this Monday the meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee of the Senate chaired by Ricardo Guerra from La Rioja. Starting at 3:00 p.m., the Minister of Economy and architect of the agreement with the IMF will present the terms of the project to begin closing its passage through Parliament. The director of the Central Bank, Miguel Pesce, and the director of the General Administration of Public Revenue, Mercedes Marcó del Pont, will also participate.
The ruling party will try to ensure that the project has a favorable opinion on Tuesday in order to be able to deal with it before Friday and turn it into law. The head of the FdT bloc, José Mayans, from Formosa, has already anticipated that the intention is that the project be “immediately treated.” The national government is pressed for time before the payment of the due date of the debt on March 22, and tries that by that date the agreement is already law and has full force.
The treatment of the agreement in the Chamber of Deputies last week exposed the internal differences between Kirchnerism and its allies in the FdT. The endorsement of the agreement with the IMF was approved with the positive vote of 202 legislators, against 37 negative and 13 abstentions. Some inside the FdT believe that it could have been negotiated more harshly, taking as an argument the weakness in which the IMF was left due to the irregularities committed against its own regulations to facilitate the agreement with Macri. The leaders closest to the president are convinced that it is the best agreement that could be reached. However, in the Senate, the opinions of the legislators are strongly influenced by the decisions and guidelines of the governors, who have already given the president the commitment of his favorable vote.
In Together for Change (JxC), the position on the agreement with the Fund also exposed differences. The leaders of that space were forced to advance a meeting of the national leadership table, but finally they took a unified position to Congress. The opinions ranged from voting against, abstaining or supporting the project in order to “prevent the country from falling into default”, which was finally adopted by the opposition alliance.
After the visit of the national government officials, the project will continue its parliamentary route. On Tuesday the debate will continue in the Budget and Treasury Committee, which is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Unlike what was discussed in Deputies, there will be no guests in the Senate since they will try to get the opinion quickly to be able to deal with it in ordinary session before Friday and that it be sanctioned as law.