The first 63 days of President Milei’s government

President Milei’s government completed its first 63 days; It has already exceeded half of “the sweet hundred days” that – as is customary – are not denied to any government; and where beginner mistakes are also forgiven. The surveys corroborate these honeys and still show citizens’ confidence.

The President has traveled to Davos and is trying to explain to the businessmen of world capitalism the benefits of anarcholiberalism. In the week that passes he visits Israel. Photos of him show him crying at the Western Wall with his hands resting on the historic monument. He announces to Argentina and the world that the ambassador to Israel will be his own rabbi; and he also makes a personal announcement: that he will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. After cardboard, he will go to the Vatican and meet with Francis.

Noisy; few nuts; many political blows for such a short time from a heterodox and inexperienced government. This week saw the political news of the year: the extravagant 650-article bill known as the “omnibus law” drawn up by political outsider Federico Sturzenegger for Patricia Bullrich – which had been generally approved last week – returned to Committee because it could not overcome the particular treatment of the almost 350 articles that had remained standing. This is a great defeat for Javier Milei in the first person. It must be kept in mind that during this period, DNU No. 70 came into force, which is considered a legislative excess of the Executive Branch, which has not yet been able to demonstrate either its necessity or its urgency and the commissions that must deal with it have not yet been issued. both parliamentary chambers.

The rejection of the rare bill promoted by the President should be interpreted as a political message: Javier Milei should correct the youthful errors of his government, which are not few. He must make clear his commitment to the spirit of the National Constitution. The doubts of those who think that the President does not believe in the division of powers and that he does not understand his own weakness in the Legislative Branch are well founded.

In this period, several significant events have occurred: the inflation left by the Kirchner government, which was 155% annually in December, at the end of January is around 250% annually, caused by the devaluation jump promoted by Minister Caputo to end of December. It is obvious that such inflationary acceleration will be felt strongly in poverty, which affects 50% of Argentines; and in the readjustments for retirees. The paradox is that in these two issues the Milei government revealed that it made the decisions without there being a palliative program to face both foreseeable negative impacts with devastating consequences on the affected population. The Government did not have any contingent policy.

The experience of the 63 days of government proves that La Libertad Avanza did not have, at the time of taking office on December 10, a coherent government program that would allow it to at least take the first safe steps of a government that is beginning. Nor did the head of the Cabinet of Ministers have the good sense to explain to society and the economic and social actors the policies to be applied.

It is necessary to assume that Argentina is going through a deep crisis of its political party system. It is time to assume that, despite the fact that the 1994 National Constitution has defined political parties in its art. 35 as “fundamental institutions of the democratic system”, it is the Constitution itself that guarantees its democratic organization and functioning and the State that contributes to the economic support of its leaders. President Milei is part of the context of crisis of Argentine political parties unprecedented in the last 120 years. The crisis worsened in the 21st century, and includes the political space of the President himself

In the context of an unacknowledged crisis, decadent political parties have concealed their shortcomings by forming political spaces for exclusively electoral purposes. The homogeneous and coherent programmatic platforms approved by the party organic bodies no longer exist, and the prestige of the party leaders revealed by the surveys is little or non-existent. Improvisation has increased when it comes to governing, and it is known that systemic corruption has been a common and tolerated practice in this century.

The Milei government has not yet achieved the approval of any important law, nor has it gathered political consensus on the application of priority public policies in the short term: 1) it has not been able to gather consensus regarding its policy of updating pensions in a context of high inflation; 2) does not achieve parliamentary consensus for the launch of an energy policy that includes the energy transition and the criteria for setting prices and subsidies for the energy basket; 3) the President, having defined himself as a “climate change denier”, generates important doubts in the international community and in the country regarding future equipment policies; 4) both the President and his Secretary of Energy have been confusing about the role that the national State must play in the definition and application of an energy policy, and 5) despite it being a very urgent issue, they have completely failed to define their position. facing the expiration of hydroelectric concessions.

Political parties have also not played a relevant role in promoting the flow of debates; It is a demonstration of laziness to have left the resolution of the omnibus law and the DNU only in the hands of the legislators. The importance of the issues warranted partisan institutional positions. It is not enough to have entrusted the positions only to the heads of the parliamentary blocs. Party statements were important to help the inexperienced government channel the situation into dialogue and agreements. It was a moment that deserved more dialogue, better writing and fewer abuses than those seen in recent weeks.

In the first 63 days, serious problems emerged that surprised the Government, which shows the lack of prior programmatic development work. Let’s look at some examples:

1. The Milei government has acted in the same way as Kirchnerism regarding the termination of the concessions for large hydroelectric plants and, like Kirchnerism, has extended their expiration, trying to buy time. It is time to establish official positions and make them known to generate future parliamentary agreements.

2. The week of January 29 to February 4, Argentina faced a widespread heat wave that put maximum demands on the electrical system, which includes its generating park, its National High and Extra High Voltage Interconnection System and the distribution systems in the AMBA.

On Thursday, February 1, at 3 p.m., the maximum historical demand for the entire system was reached, 29,653 MW. In order to satisfy this demand, it was necessary to import 2,264 MW from Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Bolivia; Without these contributions our system would have had to face significant supply cuts. In addition, on those days there were important outages in the medium and low voltage distribution system that affected more than 50 thousand users in the AMBA daily.

This demonstrated the chronic obsolescence of our generation park and other structural failures of the system (7,150 MW were unavailable for various reasons). Furthermore, it has become clear that our electricity generation system has a great preeminence of thermoelectric plants (approximately 57% of the total generation) that must be replaced by plants that do not emit greenhouse gases, which goes against the of presidential thought, and this will require private investments of extraordinary magnitude.

It is important that President Milei’s government has made the decision to intervene in the gas and electricity regulatory entities. Entities should never again fulfill the roles at the service of a political party that they have fulfilled in this century in several governments. Its function is to enforce regulatory frameworks, ensuring quality and fair price services for users. The centralization of the entities in a single body, as proposed, is also correct. However, I believe that Cammesa’s intervention would have also been appropriate, since it is through this mixed company made up of private companies and the national State that a distorting system of electricity price fixing has been implemented to the detriment of the Treasury. national, which is a priority to correct.

Finally, it could be said that President Milei’s government must fundamentally change the criteria for setting fuel rates and public energy services, without which life in society is not possible. Prices can be free but the sine qua non condition is that these prices are determined in open, transparent and competitive markets. As long as these conditions are not met – and the Government does not seek compliance –, prices should be temporarily regulated according to their audited costs, as established by law.

*Former Secretary of Energy. President of IAE Mosconi.

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