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Argentine court blocks electricity hikes

Update: August, 04/2016 - 11:00

BUENOS AIRES — A federal court in Argentina on Wednesday blocked the government’s move to slash electricity subsidies, an unpopular policy that has sent customers’ bills soaring.

Judge Martina Forns suspended President Mauricio Macri’s much-hated rate increases indefinitely, in a nationwide ruling.

It is just the latest legal setback for Macri’s move to eliminate subsidies for electricity, gas and water implemented under his predecessor, Cristina Kirchner.

A flurry of court challenges had already forced the government to cap the rate increases for gas at 400 per cent for homes and 500 per cent for businesses.

The cases were filed after Argentines’ utility bills initially shot up an average of 700 per cent.

The Macri administration has appealed that ruling. It can also appeal Wednesday’s decision.

The conservative president took office in December vowing to kick-start Argentina’s stalled economy with free-market reforms after 12 years of leftist rule.

Argentina’s economy -- the third-largest in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico -- is facing a contraction of 1.5 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund forecasts.

Macri, who has devalued the currency and slashed export taxes, insists his reforms are necessary medicine to restore growth. — AFP

 

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