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Senators raise their own pay as Argentines cope with hardship

By AFP

April 20, 2024 11:58 AM


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Argentines expressed anger Friday after senators voted by a show of hands to raise their own salaries by 170 percent even as six in 10 of their compatriots live in poverty amid a biting economic crisis.

Following the vote, which lasted less than two minutes late Thursday, the 72 members of the senate will earn some 4 million pesos (about $4,500) each -- almost 20 times the minimum wage of about $230 per month.

Senators loyal to budget-slashing President Javier Milei did not raise their hands though their presence provided the quorum for the decision to pass. They did not ask for a nominal vote -- with senators called one by one -- as is customary when there is no consensus.

"It's crazy. It does not correspond to the salaries we get," Buenos Aires clothing vendor Gabriela Quiroga, 31, told AFP, adding that "shops are not making any sales" and "more and more people are sleeping on the street."

Milei, vowing to halt Argentina's economic decline, has taken a number of steps to slash public spending, halting subsidies for fuel and transport and cutting tens of thousands of public service jobs.

His efforts have hit Argentines hard, with the price of bus tickets almost tripling and aid cut to thousands of soup kitchens.

Since the senators' vote became public knowledge, Milei took to Twitter to describe the lawmakers as "cynical" and "hypocritical."

Economy Minister Luis Caputo described the outcome as an "embarrassment."

The ruling bloc in the Senate said in a statement it would present a bill to reverse the increase, which came as parliament is debating a slew of measures proposed by Milei to slash state spending.

Earlier this week, the government announced a reversal of Milei's initial refusal to use his presidential air fleet, a decision the president himself had held up as a cost-saving measure.


AFP


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