Tax hike sent to Argentine congress

President's move seen as bid to defuse protests over controversial grain tax.

    Weeks of protests have led to foot shortages
    across Argentina [AFP]

    Kirchner raised export taxes in early March by presidential decree, triggering a three-month standoff that has seen farmers block highways and suspend grain exports.


    Thousands of farmers had criticised the president's decision as authoritarian and demanded that the proposal be debated by congress.


    'Progress' made


    Farm representatives have said they will meet shortly to decide whether to suspend protests following Kirchner's announcement.


    De Angeli was briefly detained during protests
    over the weekend [Reuters]

    "It's progress. That does indeed change things, it gives hope for a democratic solution," said Alfredo De Angeli, a prominent leader of recent protests who was briefly detained on Saturday when police tried to break up an illegal roadblock.


    Kirchner says the tax hike will help redistribute farmers' profits for the benefit of poor Argentines.


    But farming groups say the taxes will make it difficult for them to reinvest any profits to continue making a living.


    Protests and road blockades have led to shortages of goods like meat, oil, flour, vegetables and fuel.


    Argentina is one of the world's biggest agricultural producers, accounting for three per cent of global farm exports.


    The protests have

    driven soy prices to near record highs and sparked concerns of political instability in Argentina.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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