Cabinet Chef Marcos Peña. (Photo via Noticias Argentinas)

Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña confirmed today that, if the opposition manages to pass the bill that would have the government roll back on this year’s utility hikes, President Mauricio will veto it. Peña made the comments in a radio interview a few hours before special committees in the Lower House meet to discuss the initiative, the first legislative step towards passing a bill. If it garners enough votes in the committees, the bill will be sent to the floor of the Lower House.

However, given Peña’s statements, it is safe to say that unless some unexpected consensus regarding the matter is reached, the following debates in Congress will be mere political games aimed at capitalizing the social discontent over the increases. Even though the opposition has the way paved to approve a bill – after the Cambiemos caucus agreed to discuss it in commission – they already know any initiative is destined to perish under Macri’s pen.

Nonetheless, they plan to continue anyway. Since this time they will follow the standard legislative process, their bill would only need a simple majority to make it to the Senate, as opposed to the two thirds of the deputies present needed on the special sessions that took place yesterday and the previous week. And they already know they are able to muster more than half the deputies of the House.

According to Peña, the bill would cost the state AR $100 billion. “But they don’t say where they are planning on getting that money from,” he argued. “The approval is not fiscally viable; extremely irresponsible. If it is approved like this, it will be vetoed,” he said to Eduardo Feinmann.

He went on to say that eventual support to the bill from the lawmakers who answer to the provincial governors would make the latter incur in a “contradiction,” because they also need for the country “to grow, create employment and receive investment, as it is currently happening.” “We have a good working relationship [with them] and they can talk to their deputies and senators so they help to find a new space to talk about this, but it has to be outside Congress, because it oftentimes ends up being used by sectors that want nothing other than destabilizing the government, he added.

“We don’t want to make any room for that kind of demagogy, which imperils the country’s chances of development,” he concluded. Nonetheless, everything indicates the opposition will move forward with its initiative anyway.