The budget commission in the Senate passed yesterday the 2019 budget bill, leaving the Macri administration a step away from turning it into a law. With the support of 12 out of the 17 senators present, the bill will now make its way to the Senate floor, where it is set to be debated on Wednesday, November 14. Then, the government will have to manage to get at least 12 senators to join the Cambiemos coalition, which already has 25 votes in favor and needs a total of 37 votes to pass it.
The bill plays a significant role in the government’s economic plan for 2019, as it establishes the guidelines aimed at abiding by the revised Stand-By agreement reached with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September. Among them, to eliminate the fiscal deficit and not expand the monetary base until at least June of next year.
The bill will also send an auspicious signal to the Fund and the rest of the international community that the Macri administration seeks to strengthen ties with – and will be arriving to the country during the following weeks for the G20 Leaders’ Summit – as it considers it to be a illustrative of its political willingness to implement the necessary reforms to achieve sustainable growth.
Same as in the Lower House, the largest source of external support for the government comes from a faction within the Partido Justicialista (PJ), also known as the non-Kirchnerite Peronism. According to the local media, between 10 and 12 senators of the caucus led by Senator Miguel Ángel Pichetto will vote in favor of the bill, a number which, added to the votes from Cambiemos and other smaller allies, is set to be enough.
However, considering many senators actually answer to the interests of their provincial governors – rather than the caucus leader – and oftentimes they do not follow the same path, the caucus is experiencing internal clashes.
During the session yesterday, Formosa Senator José Mayans argued some senators and governors had been extorted to vote in favor of the bill. “It is a shame that caucus leaders agree to only discuss issues the Executive cares about.”
Pichetto retaliated by claiming that “no one gives me directions, much less the Interior Minister.” “Some governors bought the Cuban revolutionary suit,” he added, in reference to their state of rebellion. But regardless of this internal clashes, the government is set to get its way anyway. And that’s all it cares about now.