The Government has new ministers and one of them is the head of the fiscal wallet, the Minister of Finance, Ignacio Briones, who expressed concern for the economy as a result of the effect on the growth of this social weeping of the last few weeks. On that premise, Briones showed his differences from his predecessors in the portfolio, unchecking even the good forecasts that the Government did a few weeks ago.
In conversation with the Channel 13 Central Table program, the Secretary of State has sincesaid that he believes that the October Imacec will be «if we are optimistic 0 and most likely be negative.» Faced with this, Briones acknowledged that the country’s growth projections for this year will have to be adjusted downwards. It should be noted that from the Treasury the current estimate for GDP in 2019 stood at 2.6%, but after two weeks of demonstrations, the secretary of state expects it to be closer to 2.2%.
«There is no doubt about what has happened in Chile, and it has been seen in the market with risk premiums, and that is that there is a sign of doubt, which there is counter-investment. I am very concerned about the investment for the coming year, because without investment there is no robust growth,» he said.
Briones took advantage of the instance to touch the demands of the people who manifest theself; one of the topics: the inequality that exists in the country.
«There are clearly profound inequalities, and inequalities that are unfair, because not all are. Those that are unfair have to do with the access of freedoms. In economic matters, of course, situations of collusion, abuse, are condemnable,» he said.
«I want to be clear, I’m not going to invent anything new, I’ve always pointed out that in this country we have to boost competition, because at the end of the day it’s nothing but to think about consumers, about citizens, not businesses. We must be pro-market and not pro-enterprise,» he added, making clear his position, which distances itself both from the attitude of the Government – a few weeks ago – and from the agenda of the former Minister of Finance, Felipe Larraín.
Tax on the super-rich
No doubt the Government’s plans changed and, in that sense, Briones commented on the long-standing tax reform that drives the Executive, one of the flagship projects of the Piñera administration, and which was raising doubts in the opposition, from where they were criticized various benefits to the super-rich.
«That’s an issue that’s on the agenda, which we’re evaluating as well (…) Our tax system, if you look at it in the aggregate, which is the bulk, it’s true that it’s not regressive, but it’s not progressive either, and that’s an anomaly, it’s something you have to take care of,» Briones said.
According to the new minister of finance, income tax should be progressive, «that each person pay what he has to pay.»
«That leads you to an argument that, I don’t want to deceive you, we’re not going to lock ourselves in this short turn, my commitment is that we should sit down and think about how we deal with that principle: that the person pays what he has to pay. That’s why it’s important to look one by one at all the differentiated tax treatments we have in Chile, which are fed up. That deserves to be looked at, that’s a long agenda,» he concluded.
Briones also said that demonstrations in the capital and in regions of the country have generated «deep economic damage.»
In his view, the most visible face of recent weeks, «has been the destruction and fires of trade.» However, he warns that there is a more invisible part that has to do with the profound economic damage that this has generated.»
«First of all there are entrepreneurs, who are not the richest in this country, who have had a loss of sales and destruction that is relevant. Last week, VAT collection was down 25% associated with vats. 25% is huge,» he added.
«One can imagine what is behind it, that they are lower incomes, less ability to pay wages. There we have a very deep question where we are very concerned.» Briones estimates that the damages insurable to the destruction and loss of profit are $2.0billion to $3 billion. «That’s huge, » he said.