Friday
October 24, 2014

Government has comfortable majority

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Heated debate over deal is expected in Congress

By Fermín Koop
Herald Staff
A heated debate will soon grip the Lower and Upper Houses after Argentina agreed yesterday to compensate Repsol with US$5 billion over the assets seized from YPF in 2012. The compensation will have to be approved and sanctioned into a law, something that should not be too difficult for Kirchnerism, considering it has the majority in both chambers.

Nevertheless, lawmakers of the Radical party, PRO, Civic Coalition and UNEN have asked Economy Minister Axel Kicillof to explain all the details of the agreement in Congress, implying an imminent and long discussion. All parties told the Herald that meetings will be held in the next few days to define stances ahead of the debate.

Although there is no set date for debate, Congress will inaugurate the legislative year on Saturday.

“We want the federal government to explain how it ended up paying compensation to Repsol after having said the company would have to pay us because of environmental damages,” PRO Congressman Federico Pinedo told the Herald. “If we consider the government’s calculations and explanation as reasonable, we may vote in favour of the bill.”

Pinedo recalled that the PRO had asked the government to first pay Repsol for the expropriation and then nationalize the company, something that would have prevented “serious damage to the country.”

The expropriation of YPF was sanctioned on May, 2012 after more than 11 hours of debate. The Victory Front (FpV) was able to pass it with 207 votes thanks to the support of their provincial allies, the Radicals (UCR) and the Broad Progressive Front (FAP), among others. There were 32 negative votes — including the PRO’s, and Civic Coalition’s, with eight abstentions and 12 absences.

“I would vote against the law, but I have to discuss it with the other members of the caucus,” Fernando Sánchez, lawmaker of the Civic Coalition and part of the UNEN coalition, told the Herald. “Kicillof will have to explain all the details of the agreement. We are paying a lot of money to a company that sent most of its profits to Spain.”

Sánchez recalled most of the Civic Coalition lawmakers had voted against the expropriation because they preferred “a state company with the participation of private companies like Petrobras in Brazil,” and said that he will hold a meeting today with the rest of his caucus.

“We voted in favour of the bill ... now the federal government must explain the details of the agreement, and based on that, our caucus will make a decision,” Ricardo Gil Lavedra, former Radical caucus leader told the Herald. “I don’t understand why the government made such a big deal of the expropriation if now we end up paying the company.”

@ferminkoop

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