Argentine president kicks off election year with push to inaugurate infra works

Bnamericas Published: Monday, January 30, 2023
Argentine president kicks off election year with push to inaugurate infra works

Argentine President Alberto Fernández (pictured) cut the ribbon on a key power plant expansion on Monday and is expected to appear at more infrastructure inaugurations in the coming months to boost his flagging popularity. 

The works at the Ensenada Barragán plant in La Plata, Buenos Aires province, required an investment of US$233mn to increase generation capacity to 847MW from 567MW, according to operator CT Barragán, a subsidiary of Pampa Energía.

The president appeared at the inauguration after an internal poll was released showing that he will face serious competition in presidential primaries to represent the governing Frente de Todos coalition in the general election, due to be held in October this year. 

While Argentina’s electoral body CNE has not published the full official calendar for this year, the country’s electoral law dictates that the primaries, or PASO, must be held on August 13 this year. 

The internal Frente de Todos poll, requested by the executive branch and conducted by consultancy Aresco in late 2022, showed Fernández trailing all possible opponents in the primary.

These include Buenos Aires province governor Axel Kicillof, economy minister Sergio Massa, interior minister Eduardo Wado de Pedro and vice president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, although the latter has previously stated that she will not run for president. Fernández de Kirchner is also facing a possible lifetime ban from public office after being sentenced last year for corruption.

The poll also showed that the Frente de Todos coalition is unlikely to prevail in the general election, daily La Nación reported. 

As in previous electoral cycles, the president is expected to appear at a higher number of infrastructure inaugurations in the coming weeks and months to boost his flagging popularity.

Some of the most important projects expected to be concluded before August include:

Coronel Rosales wind farm expansion (US$130mn): Pampa Energía CEO Marcelo Mindlin said during the inauguration of the Ensenada power plant that this renewable energy project will be opened in the coming weeks. It involves increasing the capacity of the Pampa Energía III wind farm to 81MW. 

San Juan solar complex - stage 1 (US$300mn): YPF CEO Pablo González, also present at the  Ensenada inauguration, said that this project will be opened on March 15. This will be YPF’s first completed solar project. It entails a photovoltaic park with a generation capacity of 100MW. Two further stages will bring the total capacity to 300MW.

Riachuelo water system (US$1.2bn): Expected to be completed by mid-2023 and financed by the World Bank, the three main components are a 30km wastewater collector, a 12km emission line and a pre-treatment plant with capacity to handle 2.3Mm3/d of water. The latter is the only part of the project that remains unfinished. 

The 2023 budget allocated 418bn pesos (US$2.24bn) for transport and water projects. The infrastructure goals included in the budget bill include rehabilitating 2,292km of roads, completing the construction of 261km of highways and having 1,192km of highways under construction, among others.

In the case of water, the objectives are to complete 87 projects and have at least 262 projects in the Argentina Hace program underway. 

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