At the local level and, above all, in the border area, small businesses suffer the currency gap with Argentina and the significant drop in sales that it causes, as well as smuggling. In this context, scope.com spoke with the mayor of Paysandu, Nicholas Olivera.
— Paysandú has two peculiarities with respect to the departments of Black river either Leap, where the other two border crossings are: the bridge is pedestrian and of the three border crossings, the Argentine city, Colon, in this case, it is the one that is closest (compared to the other two cities, Concord and Gualeguaychu). It is much easier to access and that encourages people to cross. It is not just a merchandise issue, but access to services.
— What is the situation of the small trader in this context?
— Depending on what we compare ourselves to. Paysandú lived a kind of experiment that was the closure of the bridge, something that under no other assumption would have occurred, except for the covid-19 pandemic. At that time, a bonanza was generated in the local market, especially in commerce, but when the border was reopened, a part of that bonanza was decapitalized. So, if the comparison is to how we were in a pandemic —that in Paysandú the opposite happened to what was happening in other places— obviously trade has suffered.
— And what concrete measures are taken to alleviate this situation?
— The measures that have been taken are punctually customs control, where the amount of merchandise that an individual can bring and how often, which is 15 kilos every 15 days, approximately, was assessed. But then there are other elements that are out of control, such as the load of fuel or consumption in restaurants. I know that the government has a vocation, but since it is a phenomenon that is not only about merchandise, it is more difficult. I know the government is thinking of something, but in the meantime we have to move on.
— What is the opinion of the population, both in demand for new measures and in reception of those that already exist?
— Depending on which button you touch is the answer you have. I vindicate the person who perhaps crosses and buys a minimum assortment, and that allows you to relieve your economy to get better at the end of the month. The problem is when you see the queue to cross, because of the vehicles you see, there are many of those who later claim that they don’t sell in the shops. There are people who say that they let them continue crossing, others that they cut everything off because if they don’t they can’t sell. So, depending on which doorbell you play, it is the answer you can have.
Obviously I think it is unanimous that trade feels the exchange rate difference. With Argentina We have been like this for twenty-odd years and what seemed to be an exception or something temporary ended up being something stable and structural. That is why we have also asked the government to take measures to seek those compensatory mechanisms. For example, a measure well taken many years ago was the reduction of taxes on gasoline. He Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) He collected even more by lowering taxes. That causes a virtuous circle.
The news of the National Party in the face of the elections
— We are in a pre-election year and talk is already beginning about the pre-candidates, how is the internal one both at the National Party level and at the coalition level?
— The coalition model is validated, no one is thinking that each one goes their own way, although the Uruguayan electoral system allows you to go separately in October, each one in their party, and in November to be able to generate a space for coincidence. That came to stay, for one side and for the other, because the broad front it is also a coalition. In our case, the coalition is at the national level.
In the case of the internal party of our party, historically it has always had two currents with nuances: today we could say the most wilsonistprogressive, and a more orthodox sector, the blacksmithing. Today the party is experiencing a moment where there is a more hegemonic sector, the result of the fact that it has grown, is large and has the vocation to continue growing, which is the sector of the president and the people who surround him. And a sector that is more progressive than —the result of, among other things, the death of the man who was Minister of the Interior, Jorge Larranaga— has subsided.
But the truth is that there should be two expressions, and not necessarily synthesized in one person. We started arguing on the wrong side, for which person, who is the best candidate, and not for ideas. And in that sense, I do not see that the most progressive sector embodies a space in this government and I believe that it is necessary. For what is coming and for this same management.
— What are your personal perspectives for the elections?
My prospects are, until the last day, to do what they want me to do. I don’t want to leave the mayor’s office without having fulfilled what I said I was going to do, because but we are always in campaign and we never end up doing anything the people voted us to do. My perspective is to comply, and then we will see how we continue.
— And for this government?
— As a result of the fact that the government is made up of the most hegemonic sector, what is being proposed is the continuity of the present, which is not bad. It seems to me that he is doing a good government. In my opinion, some more progressive brushstrokes should be more present.
— Like which ones, for example?
Something good happened: the president announced and voted for a tax cut. One of the rebates targeted the Social Security Assistance Tax (IASS), a tribute to slightly higher passivities. In Uruguay, of the 640,000 passive, 40% earn less than 19,000 pesos. When you lower taxes, you understand that you can manage with less. I don’t know if we can manage with less, but if you decide to alleviate something, I would have put that money that you stop collecting in the most depressed sectors.
For example, 40% of the liabilities borrow from the Republic Bank (BROU) or to Social Welfare Bank (BPS), two public institutions. It does not seem very virtuous or fair to me that the State, which should generate a higher quality of life for those people who earn little, does not increase passivity but Through another window, it lends you money and charges you interest so that you can live.. These are the things that seem to me to be something that needs to be put in a bit: the passivities have to improve and if there is room, because a tax waiver can be made, it might have lightened the pockets of these people a little.