Economy Minister and ruling coalition presidential candidate Sergio Massa will file the 2024 national budget bill on Friday, following the deadline established by law, sources from Congress and the ministry have confirmed to the Herald.
It comes after far-right presidential frontrunner Javier Milei, Massa’s competitor in the electoral race, sent him a letter on Tuesday asking him to wait until after the vote to present the budget.
Chamber of Deputies President Cecilia Moreau is expected to call a meeting with Milei to consider postponing the debate of the bill until after the elections, the sources said. Massa has already sent Moreau the letter for her to analyze. However, the bill will be presented on Friday, and not after the elections, as Milei requested.
The meeting, which is expected to take place next week, cannot be called until the bill has been filed. After it is presented, Moreau will send it to the Budget commission for debate. The commission’s president, Deputy Carlos Heller of ruling coalition Unión por la Patria (UxP), will lead the meeting with Milei and other deputies to discuss waiting until after the October 22 elections to start debating the bill in commissions, Congress sources said.
The government must present the budget bill for the period that starts on December 10 no later than September 15, according to Argentina’s Financial Administration Law. The bill establishes next year’s expected public spending, resources, inflation and deficit.
In Argentina, it is not unusual for the budget bill treatment to happen after presidential elections. After the bill is filed, it is first debated in commissions, and when a general consensus on its details is reached, it is debated in the chamber. In years without presidential elections, this usually happens in October or November.
“It’s a tradition that in presidential election years the budget is debated after December 10, because that way it is guaranteed that the new members of the chambers can participate,” a legislative source said. In election years, that date is when Congress holds sessions in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate to officially name the new presidents of the chambers and the new elected legislators.
Sources close to Milei told the Herald that they have not been contacted regarding a potential meeting with Heller and Moreau after the bill is filed.
On Tuesday, Milei sent a letter asking the Presidency “to consider the possibility of temporarily waiving the obligation” of presenting the bill on time. The letter, however, is not addressed to President Alberto Fernández but to Massa.
Milei argued that the proposed budget law, which would take effect in January 2024, imposes an economic policy radically different from that championed by his La Libertad Avanza coalition, and that they had a “competitive electoral performance” in the primaries. Milei was the candidate with the most votes in August 13’s primary elections, earning 29.9% of the ballot.
According to Télam news agency, government sources said that “Milei’s request is reasonable because it expresses that the next president must have the chance to redesign their own budget, with which they will rule.”
“That’s why it’s logical for the 2024 budget to be presented on Friday and then wait to treat it when we know who the next president is going to be, according to what people vote,” the sources said.
UxP’s deputies will also try to reach a consensus on the issue with the main opposition coalition, Juntos por el Cambio.