Alexa

Argentine president stands by grain export tax hikes, rebuffs farmers

Argentine president stands by grain export tax hikes, rebuffs farmers

President Cristina Fernandez dug in her heels Monday over contentious grain export tax hikes, rebuffing farmers who are seeking talks to end a three-month standoff that has crippled Argentina's farm sector.
Fernandez also announced that revenue from the duties will fund social programs including the construction of 30 new hospitals, housing for the poor and rural roads. It was the first time she has given details of her plans for the money.
"I ask that all Argentines commit themselves to the fight against poverty and the redistribution of wealth," Fernandez said. "It is impossible to redistribute wealth without touching extraordinary profits."
The government hiked export taxes on soy from 35 percent to 45 percent at current prices on March 11 to tap into an international commodities boom. Farmers responded with a nationwide protest that has lasted for nearly 90 days, paralyzing the economy and raising the specter of economic recession.
Fernandez spoke Monday just hours after her government refused to attend a meeting called by the national ombudsman with leaders of the four main rural groups, saying no mediators are needed.
The previous night, farmers lifted hundreds of protests in the hopes of sitting down to a third round of negotiations with government officials.
Farmers claim they need the profits to reinvest in their lands to increase productivity.
During a news conference later Monday, Mario Llambias, head of the Argentine Rural Confederation, criticized Fernandez's determination to use farm profits to fund social programs.
"We agree with the destination of the funds," he said. "What we don't agree with is their origin."


Updated : 2021-04-15 12:06 GMT+08:00