Argentine President Javier Milei’s deeply controversial deregulatory reforms were dealt a major setback in parliament Tuesday when the package was prevented from advancing and sent back for a rewrite, legislators said.
Just as the Chamber of Deputies was preparing for a vote on the bill, the president’s La Libertad Avanza (LLA) party suddenly requested and obtained the adjournment of the session.
“The governors (of the provinces) did not keep their word,” said Oscar Zago, leader of the ruling party faction.
The matter is being sent “back to committee” for further dialogue, Zago said, while denying that the move was a failure for the president.
The new hurdle for the package, which last week won approval in principle pending further examination, was put up as Milei was on a trip to Israel, from where he offered a fiery response.
“Our government programme was voted by 56 percent of Argentines and we are not willing to negotiate it with those who destroyed the country,” Milei posted on social media platform X.
“We know that it will not be easy to change a system in which politicians have enriched themselves at the expense of Argentines”, he added.
On Tuesday, MPs resumed their thorny, article-by-article examination of Milei’s ambitious “Omnibus” law, which touches on many areas of public and private life.
Initially containing 660 provisions covering the economy, trade, culture, criminal law, even football clubs, the bill has since been whittled down to around 300 articles.
Milei had notched an initially victory Tuesday with deputies approving the principle of “delegated powers” to the executive for one year, and to legislate by decree in the name of “economic urgency.”
But the evening vote promised to be more contentious due to provisions over which the opposition intended to demand changes, such as with reforms related to the privatization of state companies or the distribution of state resources.
Milei won a resounding election victory in October, riding a wave of anger over decades of economic crisis in the South American nation, where annual inflation stands at over 200 percent and poverty levels are at 40 percent.
Milei began his term by devaluing the peso by more than 50 percent, cutting state subsidies for fuel and transport, reducing the number of ministries by half, and scrapping hundreds of rules so as to deregulate the economy.