January 21, 2009

The Santa Fe Trail

The Governor of Santa Fe, Dr. Hermes Binner,
speaks of his five-point plan while the
interpreter (right) looks on.

Also picture at far left is David Merrell (NE).
TUESDAY, JANUARY 20—After a morning meeting with the Board of Trade, we headed north to the capital of Santa Fe—Santa Fe. We have the special privilege of meeting with the Governor, Dr. Hermes Binner. Binner is the former mayor of Rosario. You may recall that Enrique Bertini called him an “honest man”—and believes that Binner may well run for president in 2011.

There is definitely a theme of frustration and disappointment with the federal government in this nation. We heard if from Bertini. We’ve heard it from farmers. We heard it at the Board of Trade. And we heard it from the Governor of Santa Fe.

Binner is proposing a concept he calls “rurality”—in which agriculture is used as the basis to generate economic activity. He spoke of the taxes on exported commodities and said that many farmers are simply storing their commodities and not selling them at this point. How long this can go on, especially with the current drought, is uncertain—but it is contributing to a slowdown in trading.

He says that access to markets is being controlled by weather—and “the face of your friends” (a reference to government favors to insiders).

Binner has forwarded a five-point plan to the national government, the only such proposal from any Argentine province. First is to establish dialogue between the federal government and the states, and between the public and private sectors. Governor Binner said that dialogue is important to address differences and challenges. “But dialogue takes two participants, not one talking and the other not even listening,” he said. “People do not trust the national government.”

The second point is to develop sources of employment and retirement. “We need to give dignity back to our people,” Binner added. He wants to use public works projects such as schools, hospitals and infrastructure to create more jobs. (Sound familiar?)

The official portrait of
Cristina Fernandez, president
of Argentina.
The third point is a 180-day suspension on the tax on commodity exports. Fourth, he wants to provide tax incentives for the purchase of machinery. And finally, he wants to use “sin’ taxes on gambling, tobacco and alcohol to generate more revenue.

The plan was just recently forwarded to the Argentine president Cristina Fernandez, who is currently on a tour meeting with the leaders of Cuba and Venezuela. This may provide a clue as to her political views. When she returns, Binner hopes to have a meeting with the national leadership to discuss his proposals.

Binner spent about 90 minutes with us, along with a couple of his staff. Needless to say, all of us on the team will be following the 2011 Argentine presidential election with great interest.

No comments:

Post a Comment