© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Argentine hundred-peso bills are shown in this photo taken on September 3, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/Illustration

By Eliana Raszewski

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s economy ministry on Sunday announced a series of benefits for workers and retirees aimed at softening the blow of a severe economic crisis that has led to spiraling inflation and a government devaluation of the national currency.

The government will give nearly 7.5 million pensioners a package of 37,000 pesos (about $105 at the current official exchange rate) over the next three months, Economy Minister Sergio Massa said in a series of messages on his Instagram account.

Massa, who is also the ruling party’s presidential candidate for the Oct. 22 election, faces ultra-libertarian maverick Javier Milei, whose support from disaffected voters saw him win a primary earlier this month.

Massa said workers would receive 400 billion pesos in loans, while the self-employed would be offered a six-month tax break and those receiving food aid would be given additional stipends.

He also announced a suspension of export taxes on some industrialized regional commodities such as wine, rice and tobacco, as well as funding for fertilizers to help farmers whose recent crops suffered from a historic drought.

“The goal is that every economic sector receives some government support,” Massa said.

The move comes two weeks after the government devalued the peso by almost 20%, accelerating annual inflation, which was already hovering around 115%, as Argentines’ purchasing power shrank even further.

Massa said the devaluation was due to a request from the International Monetary Fund, which is renegotiating a $44 billion loan program with the South American government.

The polls for the October election have tightened, giving both Massa, opposition candidate and former security minister Patricia Bullrich, and Milei, who has vowed to dollarize the economy and shut down the central bank, each have an equal share of the vote.

Experts assume that there could be a runoff election in November. Meanwhile, tensions have risen and there has been a spate of looting across the country.

($1 = 350 Argentine pesos)

Source : www.investing.com

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