| BUENOS AIRES, Sept 6
BUENOS AIRES, Sept 6 Argentina can go ahead with
its plan to cut electricity subsidies, according to a Supreme
Court ruling on Tuesday that bolstered President Mauricio
Macri's fiscal tightening push despite opposition from
recession-racked utility users.
The decision was a much-needed win for the Macri
administration after being caught out last month when the court
shot down his plan for cutting home heating gas subsidies.
Tuesday's ruling threw out a suspension of the electricity
subsidy cut imposed by a lower court after a group of lawmakers
filed a suit saying that Macri was burdening households already
squeezed between high inflation and a shrinking economy.
Plaintiffs in the suit included the official Ombudsman of
Argentina's most populous province, Buenos Aires, and lawmakers.
But they lacked legal standing to bring the suit, according
to a statement from Argentina's official Judicial Information
Center (CIJ). The plaintiffs "were not entitled to act on behalf
of all users of electricity services in Buenos Aires," the
The local stock market inched 0.7 percent higher to
16,069 after the ruling was announced. Shares of energy group
Pampa Energia rose 4.5 percent, though traders said the
decision did not spark a wider rally in the sector because the
ruling had been widely expected and was built into prices.
Elected in November on promises of lifting the heavy market
controls favored by the previous administration, Macri moved to
slash utility subsidies early in his term. As a consequence,
heating bills during a particularly cold Southern Hemisphere
winter soared, prompting public protests.
Macri inherited a government nearly out of cash after eight
years of free-spending populism under President Cristina
Fernandez. He ditched currency and trade controls as part of his
bid to draw investment to Latin America's No. 3 economy.
But the recovery has taken longer than expected to manifest
itself. Macri says he expects gross domestic product to grow at
least 3.5 percent in 2017, while inflation will likely drop from
around 40 percent currently to 17 percent next year.
Last month the Supreme Court said the government would have
to hold public hearings before implementing heating gas subsidy
cuts. Administration officials were expected to propose a gas
subsidy cut that would cause average home heating bills to rise
by about 200 percent.
"The average gas bill increase we originally applied was
about 330 percent. Now the average increase will be more like
200 percent," Energy Minister Juan Jose Aranguren told local
(Additional reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Editing by Alan