Argentina’s Senate passes ‘millionaire’s tax’ for COVID-19 relief | Latin America

The one-time fee applies to around 12,000 of the country’s richest citizens and finances medical care and business aid.

The Argentine Senate has approved a wealth tax to help the government fund COVID-19 measures, including buying health supplies and providing economic relief for businesses in trouble.

The one-time levy, which was levied late Friday with 42 yes-votes and 26 no-votes, applies to around 12,000 of the country’s richest citizens.

President Alberto Fernandez hopes the move – also known as the “millionaires tax” – will help Argentina raise around $ 3.7 billion in a year-long economic downturn exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a one-of-a-kind one-time contribution,” said Senator Carlos Caserio, a member of the bill’s committee, according to a statement on the Senate’s website, Bloomberg reported on Saturday.

“We’re coming out of this pandemic like countries from world wars with thousands of economies dead and ruined,” Caserio said.

Argentina has reported more than 1.45 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 39,500 deaths related to the virus since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University.

According to Reuters, a tax of at least 2 percent is levied on anyone with assets greater than $ 2.45 million.

The funds will be used to purchase medical equipment and supplies, support small and medium-sized businesses, support students and social programs, and finance natural gas projects.

“The #AporteSolidario is exceptional because the circumstances are exceptional,” wrote ruling party’s senator Anabel Fernandez Sagasti on Twitter.

“We need to find connection points between those who can contribute the most and those who are in need.”

The measure, previously passed in the country’s lower Chamber of Deputies, has been criticized by Argentina’s more conservative opposition lawmakers.

Daniel Pelegrina, president of the Argentine Rural Society, warned that advocates of the legislation “want to present them as the contribution of the richest, but we know what happens to all these unique taxes – they stay forever”.