Sunday, December 10

Argentine economy minister resigns amid peso, diesel woes

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Economy Minister Martin Guzman submitted his resignation Saturday, acting at the end of a week in which Argentina’s currency hit an all-time low against the dollar and truck drivers staged protests over shortages of diesel fuel.

Guzman announced on Twitter that he had sent a multi-page resignation letter to President Alberto Fernandez.

“With the deep conviction and confidence in my vision of the path that Argentina should follow, I will continue to work and act for a more just, free and sovereign homeland,” Guzman wrote.

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With the Argentine peso sliding against the dollar, the government on Tuesday made it harder to acquire dollars to pay for imports. It acted as the dollar bought 239 pesos in the informal market used by citizens and companies to bypass official channels.

Argentina has suffered for years from a shortage of dollars, which stems partly from the distrust of Argentines in their own currency amid high inflation. Prices have risen nearly 30% this year, and analysts predict inflation could rise above 70% for all of 2022.

The work stoppages by truck drivers have disrupted economic activity, including the delivery to ports of grain, which is one of Argentina’s main imports.

On Wednesday, the government said it was trying to increase the availability of diesel by allowing more biofuel to be mixed into the fuel and also by suspending the import tax on diesel.

Argentina produces diesel but not in sufficient quantities for its needs and depends on imports, with world prices rising because of disruptions by the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Analysts say one of the reasons for the shortage is that it is not profitable for oil companies to import diesel because the government prevents them from charging what it costs to buy on the international market.