Production Minister Francisco Cabrera (holding microphone) announced the decree. (Photo via Production Ministry)

The government has embarked on a sweeping reform of the bureaucracy, issuing a decree today that packs in 170 measures and will alter the way both citizens and companies interact with the state.

The government has estimated that the savings due to the measures may amount to one percent of the GDP in the next two years, approximately 100 billion pesos. While some of the laws that have been repealed or modified date back decades, and have as such been forgotten or gone without implementing, the impact on today’s economy could still be major.

Production Minister Francisco Cabrera said at a press conference yesterday that the package seeks to “reduce the number of administrative processes that companies must complete to be able to operate in the country, seeking efficiency and the corresponding saving of time.” The minister noted that the slimming down of processes would also remove opportunities for “small and large mafias” to extract bribes from the private sector or citizens.

The decree was announced yesterday and published today in the Official Gazette.

Cabrera also said that the measures are part of the ongoing process in which Argentina is contemplating accession to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The measure includes, for example, increased digitization to the point that official digital documents are considered to have the same validity as their paper equivalents (dear God, finally!), the fusion of the departments that award drivers licenses (previously divided into professional licenses and non-professional licenses), or the striking down of the requirement that the the president sign off on the opening of car factories.

Financial newspaper Ámbito Financiero has reported that the 170 articles also contain the removal of 314 products from the list of items that were included in the non-automatic import license system. This system requires that imports be given a final clearance which can take weeks. The products excluded from the non-automatic imports list include inputs such as steel, plastics and cotton. The automotive, electronics, farm machinery and construction industries, among others, use these inputs.

In total, the extensive decree signed by President Mauricio Macri and almost the entire Cabinet has 22 chapters and touches on the work of eight ministries – Modernization, Production, Labor, Finance, Transport, Culture, Agroindustry and Energy – as well as the Central Bank, the ANSES social security agency, and the AABE (the agency in charge of administering the state’s assets.) Among the many laws affected by the decree, it will settle, for example, the old discussion regarding the real estate and livestock currently in the hands of the Army: It will now be administered by the AABE. The Army had been under the obligation by a 1952 law to be self-sustaining in times of war, thus it’s need to keep livestock.

The decree is now in effect, but will have to be reviewed by Congress once it returns from its summer recess in order to be confirmed.