Massa with the governors of Neuquén and Río Negro. The “Vaca Muerta dollar” is another benefit for hydrocarbon companies. Photo: Sergio Massa Press.

In the final stretch towards the general elections, the minister-candidate Sergio Massa announced a new benefit for hydrocarbon companies: the so-called “Vaca Muerta” dollar. With this scheme the oil companies will be able to liquidate one in four dollars of exports at the cash settlement exchange rate (CCL), whose price closed this Tuesday at $778, while the official wholesale exchange rate is $350. The remaining 75% will be settled in the Single Free Exchange Market (MULC) at the official.

In this way, over the course of two months Massa hopes to obtain settlements for US$ 1,200 million, which means that about US$300 million will be settled at the value of the financial dollar. This differential between the official price and the CCK implies a transfer of $128.4 billion for companieswhich adds to a cataract of benefits that the Frente de Todos government, including the possibility of exporting a part of the gas and oil production paying 0% withholdings.

The measure was announced on the same day that the minister presented an IFE of $47,000 for informal workers, which not only arrives two months late compared to the post-STEP devaluation and the inflationary escalation, but is far from compensating for the enormous loss. of the most neglected and unprotected sector, which are the more than 5.4 million unregistered workers. Nor do these measures imply a deviation from the adjustment path planned with the IMF, which continues at a firm pace liquidating social items (as seen in the 2024 Budget project) and collecting dollars to pay the external debt while the economy contracts.

The minister acknowledged that the oil companies they come bagging millionaire profits: “We have a record of gas and oil production, and a record of investment in the hydrocarbon sector.”

But he alleged that “with the electoral result, some began to think that uncertainty was putting a brake on investment in this sector. We do not want jobs to stop, nor drilling to stop. That is why today morning We made the decision to recognize 25% of what they export and bring to Argentina to invest at the value of the CCL dollar so that investment levels increase in the next 60 days of gas and oil, which guarantees stability in jobs and that Let’s move forward with the works.”

The objective of the measure is purely electoral: to raise the dollars to arrive with a little more “air” in the ailing Central Bank reservesin the face of the proximity of the general elections and the exchange rate uncertainty due to greater pressures in the financial market.

As it turned out, the fine print of the measure was outlined on Monday night, at a dinner at Massa’s house, in Tigre. This Tuesday the minister himself met with the most important businessmen in the sector at the Ministry of Economy. There they were Marcelo Mindlinowner of Pampa Energy, Miguel GaluccioPresident of Vista, Pablo GonzalezPresident of YPFand representatives of Pan American Energy y Techintamong others.

The Government expects settlements in the sector for US$ 1,200 million in the next two months, and also based on the rise in the barrel at an international level, rather than on an effective increase in exports. The measure would initially last 30 days, until October 25, but is expected to be extended for another 30 days, until November 25.

In exchange for this million-dollar benefit, Massa asked the oil companies to sustain the gasoline price freeze, which is currently in force until October 31, and which could be extended if the benefit of the Vaca Muerta dollar continues. Although more than a request, the “Vaca Muerta dollar” is a concession from the Government to the extortion and pressure of a handful of businessmen to raise fuel rates.

The economic team does not rule out adding to the mining in a similar differential scheme, although for that sector access to cash with settlement could be up to 15% of exports. Likewise, it is not ruled out that the last “soy dollar” scheme could continue, which ends this Friday.

The Government’s main problem is that, even after the agreement with the IMF that gave it “air” with the last disbursement in exchange for a devaluation and the continuity of the adjustment, there is a lack of dollars and the problems are worsening. The austerity policies themselves to comply generated greater imbalances, the inflationary jump, the brakes on the economy and more social crisis.

With these measures Massa seeks support from the employers’ associations for his campaign and at the same time seeks to alleviate the problems until after the elections, scraping the pot of exports to minimally strengthen the ailing Central Bank reserves that are in net terms in the negative zone.

This Wednesday the poverty rate for the first half of the year will be known and specialists anticipate that it will exceed 40%. The contrast between the “owners of the country” who continue to pocket millions and the consequences of this adjustment model on the majority is increasing. It is necessary to propose a break with this path of impoverishment and decadence, and to do so, start from a rejection of the IMF and a sovereign ignorance of the external debt, for an exit from below and a reorganization of the economy in favor of the working class.


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