It is known that money does not always make happiness and it has also been proven that it does not win elections either, no matter how much money is put into entrepreneurship. The government spent a lot, a lot to get Sergio Massa to get Javier Milei, in Buenos Aires, to take such an advantage that he would compensate for defeats in other strong districts and that would place him within striking distance of the Presidency of the Nation.
The objective that Kirchnerism had set itself was to triumph by 20 percentage points in the Province and by 30 in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area, decisive and generally buckled behind the Peronist or Peronist slogans.
Nothing even close to that happened, in the end. Already nailed, the numbers from Buenos Aires sing that the Minister of Economy-candidate beat the libertarian by just one and a half points or, if you prefer, by a very modest 142,500 votes. In the context of such a fiasco, in the national election that followed, everything turned out worse: Milei beat Massa by 11.4 points, no less than by almost 3 million votes.
Very clearly, the Peronist sentiment that in the Province usually wins elections or fights elections this time did not appear or find, probably, something worth continuing to push for. And the official account, worn out from repeating the same thing so much, yielded zero or less than zero.
If the electoral factor was behind the cascade of funds that traveled from the Casa Rosada to the offices of La Plata, as it was, it is obvious that at that point they were misspent funds. And what magnitudes are we talking about?
To begin with, a precision. In the jargon of specialists, these resources are called "discretionary transfers", precisely because they are managed outside the National Budget and because the central power decides where they go and where they do not go: often according to political interests, in exchange for certain favors and always under a system of rewards and punishments.
The numbers, the privileges
Data from the consulting firm Aerarium and other sources show that between January and November 2023, that is, at the crucial electoral period, Governor Axel Kicillof received $650.700 billion out of a total of $1.5 billion destined for the 24 provinces, including the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires.
Looked at in another way, which is ultimately the same way, the tally means that 43% of the package went to a single district and that the remaining 58% was divided among 23. To make matters worse, the CABA received 10.7%, Santa Fe 4.7% and Córdoba 4.1%. What is called discretion on a large scale and without any pruritus; all in K-mode.
To speak of discretionary transfers is to speak, among other things, of the Teacher Incentive Fund and teachers' salaries; subsidies to hospitals; the financing of provincial pension funds and, above all, the assistance that sustains a large part of the fiscal structures of the states. And it is also to talk about how Kirchnerism really understands the federal country.
There is a sequence from 2023 that shows, clearly, the electoral bias that governed the system. With a trend that smacked of fiscal adjustment, the distribution fell sharply and reached the bottom in July; It then began to steepen to record highs in October and November, with increases of 296% and 226%, respectively. Of course, Kicillof never lost the throne of privileged governor and the rest, the mark of relegated governors.
Once again, numbers and resources in ever-increasing quantities appear from the very moment that Kirchnerism landed in the Casa Rosada. All this, riveting the objective of turning Buenos Aires into a powerful fiefdom from which Cristina K would assert her political weight and pull the strings of the official party.
The account started, in the initial 2020, with at this point very moderate $ 378,445 million. And it grew dizzyingly until it accumulated $3.2 trillion as of December 2023, that is, an impressive leap in four years and a demonstration of concentrated power.
Of those $3.2 billion, 41%, or $1.3 billion, ended up in the Buenos Aires governorship. If you prefer, by igniting the management of Cristina K's favorite.
From there down, a little more than $316,000 million went to the City of Buenos Aires, 145,000 million to Santa Fe and about 129,000 million to Córdoba.
Faced with such disproportions and discretions, the arguments that refer to the contribution that the Province makes to tax co-participation falter, when, as is happening now, the way in which the resources of the national State are distributed is precisely discussed. For the time being, here we are talking about an arbitrary and scarce handling of legal supports.
The shadow of the fiscal adjustment projected by Javier Milei hangs over that territory, something that already figured in a commitment that the Kirchner government had assumed before the Monetary Fund in March 2022. In the words of the agreement, it is about the "reduction of discretionary transfers, current and capital, to provinces and state-owned enterprises."
As for the part that corresponds to state-owned companies, official data say that between January and November 2023 the National Treasury transferred $ 1.1 trillion to cover operating expenses and another 376,000 million for investments. Total, at the official exchange rate, around US$ 5,700 million.
It is clear that the commitment that Sergio Massa had to fulfill is still pending and that in terms of fiscal imbalance his legacy amounts to 5 percentage points of GDP. Put another way, balancing the books in 2024 involves a cut equivalent to a staggering $9.1 trillion.
On the other hand, it remains to be seen how much Kicillof would have to deal with, in an eventual cut in the funds that bank the social plans in his province.
This would be the case, for example, of the $896,000 million that in 2023 was spent on the Empower Work program and the $247,000 million allocated to the food card that, separated or added, far exceed the amounts that Kirchnerism transferred to any of the remaining provinces.
There is a cross-reference in the midst of the rain of resources that falls without pause on Buenos Aires and it is not, precisely, a favorable note to the governor. This is no less than 47% who recorded the poverty rate in the first half of 2023, equivalent to 6 million people.
By the end of 2023, the figures will therefore be much worse than the 40.5% and 5 million people who were in poverty when Kicillof settled in the Province, and something will also have become clear: that no matter how much it is, money alone does not guarantee good management.