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Argentina – No consensus over horse racing law in Buenos Aires Province

By - 28 August 2018

The President of the Chamber of Deputies of the province of Buenos Aires, Manuel Mosca, along with the deputies of the Frente Renovador party (The Renewal Front) have met with horse racing interest groups to inform them that new legislation over the horse racing industry has been suspended.

The government had been planning to end state subsidies for the racetracks in the province completely. However, the new measures were approved in the Senate in July by only two votes. The political block supporting Governor María Eugenia Vidal is made up of less than 40 deputies, out of a total of 92. Without an alliance with members of the opposition, the new law had little chance of passing through the lower house as well.

With a complex outlook in the Lower House, and given the unlikelihood of gaining support from the opposition, the government made the decision to withdraw the proposal and begin again.

At the meeting, lawmakers discussed the postponement of the bill and the importance of keeping channels of communication open with the sector as well as with different members of the opposition. The objective of any new law will now be to search for a higher level of acceptance from the sector and safeguard the finances of the province as well.

President of the Chamber of Deputies Manuel Mosca said that a new deal was needed in order safeguard resources and protect the sector. “Agreeing means taking better care of the resources of the people of Buenos Aires that are scarce and need to reach those who need it most, and take care of an activity that has the potential to sustain itself. We have to work to ensure that this transit is gradual and as less traumatic as possible. ”

Member of the Frente Renovador party Jorge D’Onofrio said: “We have really found a mechanism for the construction of consensus, there was a law that came with a half sanction, but there is a whole industry that is linked to horse racing that was not satisfied that it was going to be good for the province. What our block and the ruling party have found, meanwhile, is a way to start talking and make the changes that correspond to the law.”

The General Secretary of the Trade Union of the horse racing industry, Eduardo Ferro welcomed the news saying that he valued the governors decision to look at the issue again, “I appreciate that both the President of the chamber and the governor have understood the social, economic and cultural importance of the horse racing industry in the province of Buenos Aires,” he said.

Vidal’s plans to cut horseracing subsidies had caused controversy from the very start and immediately came under fire from unions representing the industry.

Earlier this month the tracks of the five racecourses in the province of Buenos Aires were the scene of large-scale protests against the new laws. Workers from a wide number of sectors involved in the industry demonstrated simultaneously at La Plata, San Isidro, Azul, Tandil and Olavarría racetracks and warned of the serious consequences of the new law would have on jobs. Omar Alegre, General Secretary of the Union for Staff of the Racetrack of La Plata said there had been a serious lack of communication when it came to the new law and that they had not been consulted by the government.

In February, Governor of the province of Buenos Aires María Eugenia Vidal announced that she would cut subsidies to horse racing tracks completely. The government of the Province of Buenos Aires planned to reduce subsidies for horse racing by as much as $300m per year in its first phase. It was the government’s position that horseracing in the province of Buenos Aires has its own revenue sources such as betting, as well as simulcast sales abroad. However, for more than ten years, the province of Buenos Aires has subsidised the activity of racetracks and subsidised different trade associations as well.

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