11 June 2008

I want to believe but...

Just an example of why it's so difficult to believe in Cristina Kirchner's "redistribution programme": the chairman of the Rosario branch of the Argentine Construction Chamber notes that, of 4,000 popular homes the national government had vowed to pay for in Rosario during 2007, not a single one has been built so far. First they were cut down to 1,400, then the funds never arrived, and as of now "we haven't yet obtained a clear answer from the national government regarding the reasons for the delay… all we have is a promise, without details, that the construction of those homes will begin in the second half of this year." And of course, the budgeted prices of supplies and labour are completely outdated; updating them is a bureaucratically slow process and uses INDEC's fudged (and therefore useless) inflation figures. Considering the expediency shown by the Kirchners to deal with other matters bypassing Congress, the Constitution, and basic attempts at dialogue or consensus, it's hard to see why Cristina can't speed this up.

This report comes after Cristina granted an audience to Santa Fe governor Hermes Binner, who had criticized the handling of the farmers' crisis and asked for a better redistribution of federal funds. Yesterday, after the audience, Cristina gave a speech next to Binner noting that Santa Fe has received a lot of funds for public works, and how that shows in Rosario's growth and prosperity. Well, while it's true that we've received funds, we're still waiting for the national government to pay for the repair of a section of our coastal park that Néstor Kirchner promised to deal with in 2005 (!) and that will be finished no sooner than 2009 (hopefully). And most of Rosario's recent prosperity, as everyone over here above kindergarten age knows, is due to the money coming in from the nearby countryside, the construction boom being just one example. Put simply, when people have money to spend, they come to the big city and splash.

Yesterday, the President rubbed her figures on Binner's face noting that federal money transfers to Santa Fe had increased 30% in a year — which is true of all provinces, because that's how much tax collection increased in nominal terms, mostly due to inflation. She also claimed Santa Fe had received over AR$42 billion since 2003. However, according to our Finance Minister Ángel Sciara, the books only show AR$15 billion on all accounts. And the federal government is behind schedule by about AR$1 billion.

The national government has legal obligations — by law Santa Fe must receive 8.84% of the federal taxes, and that's not a grant, a gift, or in any sense something we must thank for to our most gracious Cristina Kirchner.

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