21 de agosto 2008 - 00:00

Aerolíneas' renationalization bill to be approved today

The Argentine State will assume the payment of a still unpredictable cost. After giving way to make sure it got the necessary amount of votes, Kirchnerism will approve Aerolíneas and Austral's renationalization bill. They have accepted reality - not even their own legislators were willing to ratify the agreement signed by Secretary of Transportation Ricardo Jaime and Marsans. Nonetheless, the transaction will proceed, even though there is no information about the final price the State will have to pay for the company nor the subsidies it will provide.

Argentine Budget and Transport committees held a plenary session to discuss Aerolíneas issue.
Argentine Budget and Transport committees held a plenary session to discuss Aerolíneas issue.
Kirchnerists will approve today Aerolíneas and Austral's renationalization bill in the Lower House, although not the version originally sent by Cristina de Kirchner to Congress. Yesterday, kirchnerist legislators were able to issue a ruling enabling them to discuss the bill in a special session. However, in order to do so, they had to give way to pressures exerted by their own troops and allies who assure them the amount of votes needed. Changes made to the bill confirm that the agreement signed by Secretary of Transportation Ricardo Jaime and Comet-Marsans group will not be ratified. The companies' valuation will be subject to what the National Valuation Board determines, and only Congress will make the final approval. But there is no certainty about the final cost taxpayers will have to assume and, least of all, about the subsidies the State will provide to both carriers, so that they can operate without deficit. Neither are there any guarantees that the State will not assume the $890-million dollar debt, owed currently by Aerolíneas and Austral. It can only be approved by another law, once Congress approves the final purchasing price.

These issues seem not to worry the government for the time being. They are just interested in gaining votes to approve the renationalization bill. Thus, in order to make sure they have the support of opposing legislators, such as Claudio Lozano and former members of the Ari party, government had to give way to demands from Kirchnerists themselves on Tuesday night, when they decided to change the bill. Not only does the bill rules out the possibility of reprivatizing the company after being reorganized, but it also rules out the possibility of the State to transfer their majority stake in Aerolíneas Argentinas. This will be the only State company banned from receiving majority private capital in the future.

Besides, legislator Lozano was able to include another change to the valuation procedure of the carriers with a view to their purchase. When valuating the carriers, they will take into account their value on June 15, 2008, when the State took charge of the airlines' management and not their value when the transfer of shares took place, as had been established in the agreement signed with Marsans.

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