Photograph courtesy of Presidency
La Nación.- The president Mauricio Macri announced yesterday that it will cut 25 percent of political positions, freeze the salaries of the hierarchical officials and sign a decree to prevent the appointment of relatives of Ministers.
With this measure, as explained by the President, as of March 1, the State will have 1,000 less hierarchical employees, which will imply a saving of 1,500 million pesos annually.
“If Argentinians make their contribution, those of us who are part of the government have to redouble the effort and set the example,” the President said yesterday in his first public activity after his return from the tour that took him to Russia, Switzerland, -where he participated in the World Economic Forum, in Davos- and France.
Although in economic terms it is not a relevant announcement -it only represents 0.02 percent of public spending- but it is a political gesture with which it seeks to get out of the crisis caused by the Labor Minister, Jorge Triaca, with the appointment of Sandra Heredia, a former domestic employee of his family weekend house, in a maritime union that is intervened by him.
The head of state finished making the decision last weekend. During the European tour, the President delegated the analysis of the measures to the Chief of Staff, Marcos Peña, and to the two deputy chiefs, Mario Quintana and Gustavo Lopetegui. Quintana was the one who had the idea of freezing salaries. Between the three they defined the fine print.
With this reduction, the structure of the State will return to the numbers it had when Macri took office in December 2015.
According to a survey of the Libertad y Progreso Foundation from last April, during the Macrist administration, the State had grown almost 25%. Today, in total, there are 21 ministries, 87 state secretariats, 207 undersecretaries of state and 687 national and general directorates.
One of the measures that most internal doubts generated was the decree “so that no minister of the national government can have relatives in the Government”.
According to the President, with this measure, he will lose “a very valuable team” of collaborators, but he said that it was a fundamental step to “make the country more transparent”.
The decree, which will include up to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, that is, parents, children, spouse, brothers, grandparents, grandchildren, daughters-in-law, and sons-in-law, will affect about 40 relatives. In this way, several direct relatives of national officials will have to leave their positions.
Among those affected is the chief of staff, Marcos Peña, and the ministers Triaca (Labor), Gustavo Santos (Tourism), Patricia Bullrich (Security), Oscar Aguad (Defense) and Frigerio (Interior), among others. The Minister of Modernization, Andrés Ibarra, was the one who facilitated the payroll.
Macri also invited the governors and mayors to adopt similar actions with the objective of “improving institutionality, integrity, and transparency in politics” in all sectors. And he launched: “I hope this example is followed by Argentine politics.”
“The path of change is difficult, but the important thing is that we have overcome the worst moments. That is why I tell them that we have hope in what we proposed to each other, which is to change the country in a serious way so that we all live better. For a long time, those who had to understand power as a service were more concerned with benefiting themselves than with taking care of us”, said the President.
The efforts were not the same in all areas. While Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio reduced political positions by 40% – eliminated eight of the 20 political posts and reduced operational charges by 20% – and Security Minister Patricia Bullrich pushed for a 32% adjustment, other ministries did not reach 20 percent.
This measure generated discomfort in part of the cabinet, which today will meet for the second time this year. At this meeting of officials, it’s expected the presence of Triaca.
The President, who yesterday used the two screens of the teleprompter system with dual optical distance readers that he uses in his most important presentations, added: “When we arrived the State was a bureaucratic tangle, a vertical, hierarchical structure, which made it difficult to take decisions and it took a long time to execute them”. He added: “We are then proposing new structures that help us have a more agile, more attentive and more prepared for a better management, which means solving the problems people have”.