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  • People receive a free meal at soup kitchens set up on a street during a demonstration against the government’s economic measures in Buenos Aires, Sept. 11, 2018.

    People receive a free meal at soup kitchens set up on a street during a demonstration against the government’s economic measures in Buenos Aires, Sept. 11, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 September 2018

The Mauricio Macri administration released its communique that reveals expected funding cuts for at least six ministries, and increased budgets for military forces.

After annoucing mergers and downgrading of ministries, Argentina’s Ministry of Finance has announced further budget cuts to the Ministries of Education, Culture, Science, and Technology; Health and Social Development; the Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development; and the Secretariat of Tourism, while also increasing funds for the national police and military.

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On Monday the government released an Official Bulletin that announced that national universities will lose another US$43 million in transfers. The Confederation of Education Workers (CTERA) teachers’ union has questioned the education defunding. Funds were also shifted from transportation and energy subsidies and put toward paying for pensions.

The Ministry of Finance’s announcement also stated that Argentina’s national police will get money originally budgeted for the National Teaching Incentive Fund (FONID). The police will now get over US$659,000 from FONID funds. The communique claimed that this transfer "is carried out regularly every year."

The former Minister of Education, Science and Technology during the Nestor Kirchner presidency, Daniel Filmus, said: "it is very serious that, in the context of the crisis that is underway in the public education system at all levels, the government has decided to reduce the education budget and to other social sectors to give money to the national police. Officials must give explanations to Congress."

CTERA warned that this year alone the government has slashed the national education fund by over US$11,862,000. Most affected are school infrastructure, teacher training, and kindergartens.

The government is “prioritizing paying IMF foreign debt and national security that represses protests, over investment in education,” said a CTERA spokesperson.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology will lose US$9.1 million, and the Secretariat of the Environment and Sustainable Development loses nearly US$ 400,000, and the Secretariat of Tourism loses about US$670,000.

Meanwhile, the national police force will gain over US$1.1 million and the armed forces will earn another US$18,450,000 million.

There will be several million in funds given to subsidies and pensions.

The cuts and folding in these ministries into other national secretaries is part of the government’s austerity measures to meet its IMF loan conditions to reduce its fiscal deficit by 2.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for this year.

The cuts to the several ministries have incited thousands to protest over the past several weeks. University teachers were on strike for three weeks demanding higher wages until over half of the universities reached an agreement with the government. Secondary school unions have walked out a total of two weeks since they started school last March demanding wages that compete with the country’s 30 percent inflation rate.     

Demonstrators are out today in Buenos Aires against the funds' reductions and organizers are giving away food to show the lack of money for food at home.

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