Monday, 7 July 2008

Export tax that angers farmers advances in Argentina

RIO DE JANEIRO: After a marathon session over the weekend, the lower house of Congress in Argentina narrowly approved agricultural export tax increases that the government imposed four months ago.
Legislators debated the politically charged measure for more than 15 hours, starting Friday evening, before approving, 129-122, the export tax system created by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The 129 votes were just one more than the minimum the government needed for approval.
The debate over the taxes, which caused farmers to rebel against the government by setting up blockades on major highways and cutting off exports of grains, now moves to the Senate for consideration, which could begin as soon as this week.
Farm leaders indicated after the vote that more protests were imminent. The vote "did not touch any of the problems that the countryside has," said Ricardo Buryaile, vice president of the Argentine Rural Confederations. After 120 days of conflict, "the essence of our complaints were not dealt with," he said.
The lengthy debate was filled with passionate speeches, with some lawmakers defending the government's program and others citing the economic harm the new export tax system had produced for farmers. The political instability has affected Argentina's international reputation as a major supplier of food to the world.

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