CÓRDOBA.- At the beginning of his administration, Alberto Fernandez wanted a “federal rate” for urban transport throughout the country with the aim that the price of the ticket would be similar to that of the city of Buenos Aires (today, 18 pesos), but when the team of the Ministry of Transport started doing the numbers, the idea was shelved. Yesterday progress was made on one of the governors’ claims: a project was announced to remove subsidies from 32 CABA lines. But nevertheless, are maintained for 268 AMBA lines, of which approximately half connect the suburbs with Buenos Aires territory.
He was the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Sergio Massa, who insisted on the issue in response to the proposals that, together, the cities of Córdoba, Rosario and Santa Fe made, which last week increased their urban ticket.
The 300 transport lines in CABA and AMBA are -together with those that link Resistencia with Corrientes and Neuquén with Cipoletti- those that are outside the Compensation Fund for the provinces that was created with the fiscal pact signed in 2017 between the governors and the then president Mauricio Macri and that replaced subsidies.
That Compensation Fund, when the current administration took over, conditioned the transfers to the fact that the price of transportation was frozen, a policy that could only be fulfilled for a few months. Beyond what the Nation puts (last year $28,000 million against $180,000 million for AMBA and CABA) all the extra money that is needed must be provided by the provinces or municipalities.
That is the reason for the claims of the provinces. From the Nation they warn them that they accepted those conditions and the answer is that Many aspects of this consensus remained unfulfilled, such as, for example, the progressive elimination of subsidies for the electrical distributors Edenor and Edesur, and for Aysa to pass into the hands of CABA.
The document with which Transport announced the transfer of the 32 lines to CABA indicates that the province of Buenos Aires “already has in its charge the financing of the system of the 128 provincial lines plus the 114 municipal lines.” According to sources consulted by THE NATION that’s “partially” true since they continue to be funds of the central administration drawn in the form of discretionary transfers those who have that destiny.
Moreover, they review that this situation did not start with Axel Kicillo, but already existed when Maria Eugenia Vidal She was governor of Buenos Aires. “There was always a different treatment than the rest of the districts,” a specialist who went through the Ministry of Transportation is honest.
It details that for the lines that join CABA and AMBA -called interjurisdictional lines– the original funding provided that the 45% will be contributed by Buenos Aires, the same figure by the Nation and 10% by CABA. “Without turning it over as a transportation subsidy, La Rosada puts the province’s money and completes what exceeds the $600 million that the Horacio Rodríguez Larreta administration uses for that purpose,” says the specialist.
The leaders of the interior question why these interjurisdictional lines do not exist in other provinces (the only precedents are Corrientes-Resistencia and Neuquén-Cipoletti). “Why doesn’t the Nation cover Santa Fe-Casilda or San Luis-Río Cuarto?” they ask in Córdoba, where the governor John Schiaretti He returned to the “inequities” of subsidies at the opening of the legislative year, a few days ago.
“The transfer of 32 lines to CABA is a gesture, but the large portion remains the same,” confided a municipal official from Rosario. Two former officials even recalled that Kicillof raised in a meeting on the subject, just after Fernández’s administration had begun, that they had “assured” him that his government would not put up any money. That is why there are national transfers that cover that difference.
Also during the Together for Change management, at the beginning of 2019, diesel subsidies for urban transport companies were eliminated (the system was called Sistau). It was one more blow to the scheme and an increase in the costs of the benefit.
In no city in the interior of the country is the ticket paid 18 pesos, as CABA; in the case of Córdoba and Santa Fe, for example, it costs $59,35. In Necochea, $80; in San Martin de los Andes, $79.89; in Bahía Blanca, $76; in Villa La Angostura, $65; in Bariloche, $62; at Villa Merlo, $60; in Junin $60; in Corrientes $60 and in Mar del Plata $59.90.
In addition to the proposal of the municipalities of Córdoba, Rosario and Santa Fe, in a meeting of the Radical Youth in Entre Ríos, the Jujuy Gerardo Morales -accompanied by national legislators- called for a “developmentalist and federal” country project. He said that they believe in fiscal balance, but they do not make “balance an end in itself”.
In addition, a report by the consulting firm Idesa points out that in the case of electricity, generation and transportation are the responsibility of the Nation, while distribution to the end user is the responsibility of the provinces. Under the same logic, urban transport is provincial and municipal competence. “However, in the particular case of AMBA, the distribution of electricity and urban transport are still in charge of the national State.”
This is so because these functions were not transferred to CABA in 1996. “For this reason, the national State ends up financing, with federal funds, subsidies for public services that should be financed by CABA and the province of Buenos Aires in the suburbs. A key ordering advance is to transfer these powers to these two jurisdictions, so that they decide whether to maintain the subsidies and, if they do, finance them with their own resources,” the report adds.