Photo via Nova Argentina

Three months after being approved in Congress, the Mauricio Macri administration sanctioned today the extension of the Social Emergency Law, which will allocate AR $30 billion to tackle the needs of the most vulnerable sectors of society over the next three years, among other things.

The decision doesn’t come at a random moment: yesterday, the Argentine Catholic University’s (UCA) Observatory of Social Debt published a study claiming that the poverty rate in the country reached 32.9 percent in the third quarter of 2016. The number means that since the Macri administration took office in December 2015, about 1.5 million people — or 3 percent of the population — fell under the poverty line. Added to the 11.5 million that already were in this situation when the Fernández de Kirchner administration stepped down, the total percentage represents roughly 13 million people.

Before the approval, the social movements that represent the interests and needs of the most vulnerable sectors of the population have regularly marched the streets of the City of Buenos Aires, demanding it be implemented. Some of these movements had already announced yet another protest for money, but the government, maybe considering the number of high-caliber marches there were this week, sanctioned the law today.

Social movement barrios de pie. Photo via Clic de Noticias
Social movement barrios de pie. Photo via Clic de Noticias

The decree, published today in the official bulletin, details the role and goals of the “Council for the Popular Economy” — which will be integrated by representatives from different government ministries and social movements — and the parameters of the so called “Complementary Social Salary:” a sum of money the Council will allocate to informal workers so they earn at least the equivalent to a minimum wage.

However, the law explains that this goal will be “reached in a progressive way, along with the government’s budgetary possibilities.” The funds for the law will be administered by the Department of Social Development, headed by Carolina Stanley.

If implemented fully, the law would also do the following:

  • Create a register of informal economy workers.
  • Increase the sum received by unemployment welfare recipients from AR $3,450 to about AR $4,000, which represents half the minimum wage.
  • Increase the budget of soup kitchens by 40 percent.