Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently or simply haciendo como el avestruz (who can blame you), you may have noticed that Argentina’s economy really isn’t doing too well at the moment. In a desperate effort to reduce the fiscal deficit, the government has introduced a series of cuts to public spending, and even the Senate is not immune.
In a document published yesterday, the Senate’s President Gabriela Michetti signed off on a budget cut for the Upper House. The document, Decree DP 276/2018, says that the current financial context renders it necessary “to adopt measures which not only tend toward the efficient rational use of public resources but also allow their progressive reduction,” projecting a total spending cut of 30 percent.
The measure was signed yesterday, the same day that thousands of people marched on Congress to demand Cristina Kirchner’s removal from the Senate and an end to general government corruption and impunity.
— Bracesco V (@BracescoNews) August 22, 2018
These measures represent a change in attitude for a legislative body that has famously adopted a more laissez-faire approach to spending in the past. Under previous Vice President Amado Boudou, the Senate had higher levels of spending than the Lower House despite having fewer members; when Michetti took on the position, Boudou had left a massive AR $126 million (US $4,168,045) debt in the Senate. Oops.
Now, things have changed and austerity is the word of the day. The main cuts to the Senate’s spending will be:
“Suspension of the provision or acquisition of ornaments, protocol and commemorative gifts and gastronomic services for events.”
You know how those senators love their decorative tchotchkes, but under the new budgetary guidelines they will have to hold off on purchasing ornaments and presents for the foreseeable future. This measure also means that Senate’s events will no longer be catered.
“Suspension of the expense settlement for attendance to Congress sessions, seminars, courses and all training that has not been expressly authorized.”
This one means that senators can no longer charge the Senate for the cost of getting to and from sessions. Better charge up that SUBE card, lads.
“Suspension of the authorization to senators, authorities, and House personnel to claim costs on trips.”
Under the new regulation, Senators will have to travel in Economy Plus with all the common folk and can only fly business class on flights lasting over 8 hours. Furthermore, the maximum limit for the payment of travel expenses has been set at three days.
“30 percent reduction of the value of the daily allowance to senators, authorities and Senate personnel for trips made inside and outside of Argentina.”
Senators and Senate personnel will have to cool it on buying giant Toblerones at Duty Free as the daily travel allowance has been lowered by 30 percent, in line with the total overall reductions. Senators can also be accompanied by just one agent per delegation and ad honorem advisors and secondary personnel can no longer claim travel expenses.
“Limitation to two mobile phones per Senator or House Secretary.”
Ok so listen. I’m a millennial and I’m just as obsessed with my phone as the media says. I also understand that sometimes you want a second phone because you don’t want all those pesky work emails taking up your memory so you have to delete some selfies.
However, I struggle to understand why anyone would need three phones, unless you are a small-time drug dealer or need a secret line to your mistress? Come on now folks, this is totally reasonable.
“Limitation of the provision of beverages and infusions, with the exception of water dispensers.”
Bye bye, cafecitos. This one applies to the offices of senators and House secretaries, who now can only quench their first with bog standard water dispensers. However, while this might not be as exciting, it will not impact their legislating ability. As the great DJ Khaled once said, “major key [to success]: hydration.” Wise words indeed.
“Reduction of the Senate’s automotive fleet by 40 percent”
The Administrative Secretary was ordered to carry out a survey within 60 days of all the vehicles available to higher authorities, senators and secretaries and will make a report on the necessary fleet for each unit. Cars that are judged to be non-necessary will be auctioned off. The aim is to reduce the fleet by 40 percent, making it more of a flotilla, if anything.
“Suspension of the provision of newspapers and magazines loaned to the Senate.”
I guess they’ll just have to get their news from digital sources from now on. The Bubble, maybe? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
To read a full list of cuts, you can read the full document here: