Argentine lawmakers okay 2023 budget bill in overnight session


By Walter Bianchi

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Argentina's lower house of Congress on Wednesday passed President Alberto Fernandez's 2023 budget bill after a lengthy, overnight session marked by heated debates with the opposition that led the government to concede on some points.

The greenlight came in a 180-22 vote in favor, with 49 abstentions, a breakthrough after the 2022 budget bill had been rejected by Congress last year due to disagreements between the center-left government and the opposition.

The 2023 budget estimates Argentina's economy will grow 2% next year, while the annual inflation rate was pegged at 60%. It still needs approval by the Senate. The budget expects GDP growth of 4% this year as consumer prices rise by nearly 95% at an annualized rate.

The ruling Peronist coalition was forced to withdraw an article allowing the Executive branch to manage increases in taxes for the key agricultural sector. Argentina is the world's No. 1 exporter of processed soy and No. 3 for corn.

Congress also rejected an article that would force judges and prosecutors to pay income tax.

"Many elements have been included, but there are topics that apparently were not fully understood by many lawmakers," a Peronist lower house Deputy said.

(Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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