The rumor has become a reality. According to press reports, the government has officially made the decision to eliminate the 35 percent tax on computer imports, a measure that would lower its prices by at least 12 percent for consumers. Rejoice! You will no longer have to make that awkward call to your great grandmother-in-law’s friend who’s going to Miami to ask her if there’s the slightest possibility she will bring you back a laptop in her purse.
“We want to lower prices for computer-related products: there’s no going back because those are prices that affect the economy as a whole and productive innovation,” said a member of the Production Ministry, in charge of carrying out the initiative that is likely to be announced in January next year.
Not everyone is as happy as we are though. The Metal Workers’ Union (UOM) and over 15 IT companies were quick to warn this is practically a death sentence for the jobs of 5,500 people, 1,000 of whom work in the assembly lines in southernmost Tierra del Fuego province.
The government assured its planning on an “industrial restructuring” to prevent any jobs from being lost. This means reassigning the workforce that currently assembles laptop parts to assembling other products in which Argentina is more competitive, such as household appliances and electronic devices.
The only laptops that will still be assembled nationally are those that are handed out through the Connecting Equality (Conectar Igualdad) government plan, an initiative that seeks to bridge existing gaps in the quality of education throughout the country, principally by putting an accent on improved technology in the classroom. The sector still considers this is not enough: “It’s nothing, last year they bought 250,000 from us. You can’t support a factory with those numbers,” an executive told La Nación.