BUENOS AIRES – Argentine President Mauricio Macri said on Tuesday that elderly folks in his country won’t have to worry after Congress passes the pension reform touted by his ruling party, but which has sparked angry social and political rejection and violent street protests.
“What we’ve done with this reform is guarantee a formula over the coming years that protects them from their worst problem – inflation – which we’re fighting but have not yet managed to conquer,” the president told a press conference in Buenos Aires.
The new law, which modifies the formula for updating pensions and which, according to the opposition and labor unions, signifies a big cut in citizens’ savings, will guarantee, according to Macri, that they will always stay “a little ahead of the inflation” on a quarterly basis.
The system up to now established a biannual adjustment based on income from Social Security and wage modifications.
Macri recalled that the new measure was agreed upon “by a majority of provincial governors,” who have great influence on lawmakers, as part of a package of reforms reached by consensus.
The bill was passed Tuesday with 127 votes in favor – by the ruling Cambiemos party and opposition lawmakers influenced by the governors – and 117 votes against, with two abstentions, after last Thursday’s session was broken up before the measure could be debated by violent street protests and clashes among the lawmakers themselves.
The president said “many reforms” are needed to build an Argentina that “includes everyone” and added that “we can’t throw money around” when there is “so much poverty.”
“All these changes make people uneasy but they’re necessary,” Macri said, adding that he didn’t become president “to hide problems under the rug.”