Argentine President Mauricio Macri said Monday that the government would ask exporters, who have benefited from a sharp depreciation in the peso currency, to contribute more to the country's fiscal accounts as it aims to cut its budget deficit.
In a television address, Macri did not specify what measures the government would take, but said that while export taxes were "a bad tax", the current moment is an "emergency." Treasury Minister Nicolas Dujovne was expected to announce details of policy changes later on Monday.
"We are going to ask those who have more capacity to contribute, I mean those who export in Argentina, that their contribution is greater," Macri said in a recorded message.
"We must continue to make every effort to balance the accounts of the State," he added.
The agriculture ministry said in a resolution in the government's official gazette it had decided to modify export taxes on grains, oilseed and their byproducts. Argentina is the world's top exporter of soy meal and soy oil, and a leading shipper of corn, wheat and raw soybeans.
Macri also indicated that he hopes to reduce the number of government ministries to less than half in order to reduce the deficit, which would lead to the sacking of thousands of people, in a addition to many who have already lost their job.
The news comes as the country's currency has been crashing to record lows amid lack of confidence in the country's economy despite an impending austerity deal with the IMF that could see more reduction in social programs and government spending.
The measure follows a week of turmoil in which the peso lost 16 percent of its value after a surprise announcement by Macri - that he would ask the International Monetary Fund for early release of funds to shore up investor confidence about Argentina's ability to make its bond payments next year.
Government officials will hold meetings with the IMF in Washington this week to hammer out a deal allowing early cash disbursements under a US$50 billion standby finance pact reached with the fund earlier this year.
Macri, an advocate of neo-liberal and free-market policies, was elected in 2015 on promises of "normalizing" the economy after eight years of left-wing policies by former President Cristina Fernandez. But his policies have not attracted the investment he said would be needed to set the stage for sustained growth in Latin America's third-biggest economy.
Gross domestic product is expected to shrink this year while inflation soars more than 30 percent. A plank of Macri's 2015 election platform was to cut the country's fiscal deficit by reducing the public utility subsidies favored by Fernandez.
But cutting those subsidies has put upward pressure on inflation by sharply increasing household electricity, heating gas and water bills, leaving Macri caught between voters tired of fiscal belt-tightening on one hand and investor pressure for spending cuts on the other.