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New president lays off 5,000 government employees hired in 2023

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Argentina’s new president lays off 5,000 government employees hired in 2023, before he took office

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — The administration of Argentina’s new President Javier Milei said on Tuesday that his government won’t renew contracts for more than 5,000 employees hired this year before he took office.

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The move was part of a sweeping plan of cutbacks and devaluations announced by the right-wing libertarian since he took office on Dec. 10 to transform Argentina’s struggling economy.

The contracts for other government employees, who were hired prior to 2023, will be reviewed, authorities said. The 2023 cutoff is apparently meant to target the practice of outgoing presidents padding the payrolls in their final year.

With inflation expected to reach about 200% by the end of the year, Milei has pledged to reduce government regulations and payrolls, and allow the privatization of state-run industries as a way to boost exports and investment.

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The cutbacks have already drawn protests but Milei has vowed to forge ahead.

“The goal is (to) start on the road to rebuilding our country, return freedom and autonomy to individuals and start to transform the enormous amount of regulations that have blocked, stalled and stopped economic growth,” he said.

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Approximately 300 changes announced previously would earmark many government companies for privatization, and loosen protections for renters, employees and shoppers.

The steps include a 50% devaluation of the Argentine peso, cuts to energy and transportation subsidies, and the closure of some government ministries. They come amid soaring inflation and rising poverty.

Milei, a 53-year-old economist who rose to fame on television with profanity-laden tirades against what he called the political caste, became president with the support of Argentines disillusioned with the economic crisis.

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