New Rules for Dollar Purchases: Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich gave details this morning about the new regulations for purchasing foreign currency in Argentina. From today, Argentines will be able to purchase US dollars and other currencies at banks and exchange houses for purposes other than tourism, subject to prior authorisation from the tax office, AFIP. Employees and independent workers can change up to 20% of their declared monthly net income (averaged over the previous year), provided that it exceeds $7,200, or twice the minimum wage. A maximum of US$2,000 can be purchased in any month.
According to the Central Bank directive ‘A5526′, currency purchases must be paid for via a bank transfer or cheque, not cash. In addition, those who put their dollars in a savings or fixed-term deposit account for 365 days or more will be exempt from the 20% standard tax advance applied to foreign exchange purposes. However, AFIP head Ricardo Echegaray confirmed today that currency purchases for tourism and travel purposes – which will not be affected by the new allowances for dollar savings – will still be subject to the 35% tax advance implemented in December.
President Meets Fidel Castro in Havana: President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had lunch with Fidel Castro yesterday and met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff later. President Fernández travelled to Havana to attend the second Celac summit, which will take place tomorrow. She referred to the encounter with the former Cuban president on Twitter today, saying that she was honoured to have been invited to have lunch with him and his family. “We talked about everything but especially a symbol of the reunion of the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean,” she said, referring to the Celac summit, and anticipated that “the Celac summit will include a declaration of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Peace Zone.” She mentioned that they “also talked about [late Venezuelan president] Hugo [Chávez]. A lot. Unforgettable memories. Infinite nostalgia.” In the afternoon, President Fernández held a bilateral meeting with Dilma Rousseff. “We talked a lot,” she said on Twitter. “Main subject: speculative pressure on exchange rates in emerging countries. (Does that ring a bell?).”
More Confirmed Dead after Catamarca Deadly Storm: Thirteen are now confirmed dead and a further seven people remain missing after last Thursday’s storm and ensuing mudslide in the northern province of Catamarca. Torrential rains and strong winds caused a river to burst its banks near the town of El Rodeo, 38km north of the provincial capital, generating a mudslide that swept along cars, houses, and a bridge. According to the provincial government, three people feared day were today found to be safe and sound.
Polar Bear to be Transferred to Canada: Mendoza’s provincial government confirmed on Friday that they would transfer a polar bear resident in the city’s zoo to a reserve in Canada. Assiniboine polar bear conservation centre had offered to take the 29-year-old bear, called Arturo, and after a campaign backed by Greenpeace highlighting the record-breaking summer temperatures, the provincial government rescinded, and announced that Arturo will be moved as soon as he is given the medical all-clear. The move has been welcomed by conservationists, as last summer a polar bear in Buenos Aires city zoo died due to a combination of high temperatures and fireworks over the Christmas period.