In the turmoil after increasing his salary and that of members of the executive by 48% in the midst of an economic slump, Argentine President Javier Milei pleaded “an error that should never have happened”. On the set of the LN television channel this Monday, the Argentine head of state announced that he had signed a document canceling these increases.

Javier Milei also and above all blamed his Minister of Labor Omar Yasin, whose dismissal he announced live. “I fired the Secretary of State for Labor,” he said on the television set, in response to questions from the channel’s journalist. “He is being notified as we speak.” The entourage of the minister concerned denied any responsibility, also reports the conservative daily La Nacion.

The Argentine president also mentioned old decrees signed under the presidential administration of former left-wing president Cristina Kirchner, which “automatically” increases executive salaries. “Admit that you signed, that you were paid and that you got caught,” Cristina Kirchner responded in a series of scathing tweets.

“Since you are so concerned about our salaries, what would you say if I canceled the $14 million you receive as a privileged pension and gave you a minimum pension?” the Argentine president replied in a salty exchange. “The last thing we need today is a president who makes threats on the Internet,” he was again told.

This “indecipherable president” continues to challenge the establishment and classic politics with “his ideological, confrontational communication (…) without seeking agreements, without generating majorities, without calculating the cost. Like a unique open-air experience,” the daily La Nacion recently analyzed.

This controversy comes in the midst of a more than rigorous austerity policy, established by the ultraliberal president elected on December 10. The new head of state promised to curb galloping inflation (254% over one year in January) and to put an end to the budget deficit which is affecting the country’s economy. In January, the balance of public sector finances became positive again, by $589 million. A first in 12 years, welcomed the Ministry of the Economy.

The Milei government has eliminated ministries, eliminated 50,000 public jobs, reduced transport subsidies, reduced official travel, and even removed 27,000 irregular beneficiaries from social assistance. “Cleaning up, or simple evaporation” of income?, economist Salvator Vitelli asked AFP, for whom the immediate mathematical effect is not guaranteed over time. “The social variable will be decisive in knowing how long this method of improving accounts can be sustained,” added the economist.

The poverty rate remains very high. According to a study published in February this weekend by the Social Debt Observatory of the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA), 57% of the population lives below the poverty line, the highest figure since establishment of this private measure 22 years ago. Last month, the government decided to increase the minimum wage by 30%.