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Argentina’s president announces new austerity measures

By AFP - Sep 03,2018 - Last updated at Sep 03,2018

Demonstrators protesting against the economic policies of the government walk past in front of a bureau de exchange in Buenos Aires on Monday (AFP photo)

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina's President Mauricio Macri announced austerity measures on Monday, including the elimination of government ministries and stiff taxes on exports to reduce budget deficits and stabilise the economy.

The centre-right president admitted in a speech to the nation that Argentina was facing "an emergency".

"We must confront a fundamental problem: To not spend more than we have, to make efforts to balance the state's accounts," he said in the televised address.

Argentina is one of the world's biggest exporters of corn and soy oil. Addressing rich agricultural exporters who will face export taxes, he said: "We know it's a bad tax, but I ask you to undertstand that it's an emergency."

In a bid to reassure Argentines increasingly concerned over austerity, he said he would allocate more aid to the country's poor, suffering from the effects of high inflation.

"We will overcome the crisis by taking care of the most needy," promising "increased allocations, food programmes and price caps on some commodoties".

Several ministries will be eliminated, which will result in a decrease in budget and staff.

Economy Minister Nicolas Dujovne recognised in a press conference later that "mistakes had been made" in managing the economy and announced measures to cut the budget deficit to 1.3 per cent of GDP in 2019.

Dujovne was speaking before flying to Washington for a meeting with the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday to finalise a deal to speed up disbursement of a $50 billion loan agreed in June.

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