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Argentina’s New ‘Pro-Business’ President Blocks Anti-Layoff Bill

In an act of “fiscal discipline,” Argentine President Mauricio Macri vetoed a bill on Monday that would have delayed layoffs in the public and private sectors, according to a Reuters report.

The new law would have “spooked” investors and destroyed other jobs, The Wall Street Journal reported the national leader as saying.

The pro-business president, who previously worked as president of Shell, began his term in December and has ordered thousands of job cuts from government agencies since then in order to reduce the budget deficit exacerbated by former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

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"Dialogue among workers, the government, unions and business owners is the way to create jobs," Macri said on Monday in his official explanation for the veto, which represented his first major clash with Congress.

The opposition parties, including Fernandez’s own Justicialist Party, led the now-failed effort to delay layoffs by six months and double the fired workers' severance packages at a time when Argentinians face double digit inflation.

Inflation increased with Macri’s move to let the national currency’s value float when he began his term. He maintains that the new measures will lead to higher rates of foreign direct investment, productivity and employment in the long term.

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The president has also rescinded energy subsidies, causing citizens to face higher utility bills.

As the third-largest economy in Latin America, Argentina’s economic crisis comes at a tough time for the continent as Brazil struggles to accommodate a new acting president and the Venezuelan government deals with large budget shortfalls in light of chronically low oil prices.

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Argentina is home to the second-largest reserves of shale gas and the fourth-largest reserves of shale oil in the world—and it is here, many believe, that the next major shale boom will unfold.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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