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Usted está aquí: Inicio Acerca del CLAD Publicaciones Revista del CLAD Reforma y Democracia Artículos por número publicado 028, Febrero 2004 Argentina: Regulatory Weakness as Political Strategy

Argentina: Regulatory Weakness as Political Strategy

Mabel Thwaites Rey and Andrea López

This paper puts into question the theoretical postulates of regulation prevailing in Argentina, where in the 1990's took place the most radical privatisation of state firms in all of Latin America. The cases of electric, gas, and water utilities, and telephone companies are taken as central reference and the notorious weakness with which the State took over its new role as "regulator" is analysed. Far from setting up the proclaimed clear regulatory mechanisms, creating independent public control bodies and supervising firmly the supply of monopoly services, Argentina's regulatory policy was virtually residual. Regulatory policies were understood as mere formalities that in no way should deter potential investors or disturb the operators of privatised services.

Under this residual regulatory framework, the interests of the citizens-users were systematically subordinated, or simply ignored. Because "really existent privatism" negatively redefined the meaning of the public sphere as a guarantee for the access to essential goods and services and, consequently, for social cohesion. The private management of public services privileged a mercantile logic over the consideration of social efficiency. This not only caused specific problems related to the access to services by the poorest sectors of the population and the fixation of priorities for the expansion and improvement of the services, but also had serious macroeconomic impacts. The tariffs charged by the privatised firms, the levels of employment they generate, the suppliers that they contract, the taxes that they pay, the profits they remit, the debt they amass, all have a major impact on the overall economic performance.

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