Social Development Minister Carolina Stanley and social movement leaders. Photo via Nova Argentina.

The government yesterday caved to demands from the political opposition and social groups, reaching an agreement with social organizations to pass a bill declaring a “Social Emergency” before the end of the year. The issue will be discussed in next month’s extraordinary congressional sessions, called by President Mauricio Macri via decree. The government also showed willingness to negotiate a modification to its project to reform the income tax and reach middle ground with the proposal put forward by Renewal Front (FR) Deputy Sergio Massa and backed by large portions of the opposition.

The ‘Emergency’ Bill’s goals have been defined, after government representatives signed an agreement with social organization representatives last night. In order to reach the agreement, however, both parties compromised some of their pretensions. Here’s what the bill would have the Macri administration do and the demands dropped by social organizations in order to reach this middle ground and thus avoid having the president veto the proposal, as it looked like it would happen initially.

If approved — which all indicators point at happening — the bill would do the following:

  • Declare a “Social Emergency” for three years.
  • Create a register of informal economy workers.
  • Designate AR $30 billion throughout the next three years to achieving social goals, which add to the AR $17 billion the government has already budgeted for this purposes in 2017 and other similar sums that will be destined to the sector during the following years.
  • Increase the sum received by unemployment welfare recipients from AR $3,450 to about AR $4,000, which represents half the minimum wage. Those who are already part of this plan will get a year-end bonus of around AR $2,000, in accordance to what the government announced last week.
  • Budget for soup kitchens will increase by 40 percent. The government will also distribute a million baskets with typical Christmas food products to the most vulnerable.
  • Implement a so called “complementary social salary” so informal workers earn at least the equivalent to a minimum wage. However, this goal will be “reached in a progressive way, along with the government’s budgetary possibilities,” the agreement explains.

On their end, social organizations dropped the request to have the government create a million jobs in cooperatives and a 15 percent increase in the sum destined to Universal Child Allowance (AUH) recipients. The new proposal, however, would bump up the number of jobs in cooperatives from 300,000 to 510,000, creating a total of 210,000 jobs in the area.

The bill, as well as the reform to the income tax, will begin next week. According to La Nacion, the idea is to debate both initiatives on Tuesday, December 6 and the government has shown willingness to turn them into laws before the end of the year.