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Fri Apr 29, 2016, 03:03 PM

Utility hikes of up to 327% threaten the University of Buenos Aires budget.

The Supreme Council of the University of Buenos Aires announced that an emergency "interim" budget will be approved in the coming days because, according to university authorities, the current budget does not cover costs arising from rescinded subsidies and increased tariffs enacted by the right-wing Macri administration.

The University of Buenos Aires (UBA), with 320,000 students, is the largest in Argentina and the second largest in Latin America after the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

The current operating budget, signed by former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner last October, granted the UBA a 2016 budget of 8.7 billion pesos ($600 million) - an increase, in pesos, of 30% from 2015. The budget passed in October did not, however, contemplate the sudden increase in operating expenses stemming from President Mauricio Macri's decree rescinding subsidies for utility rates and other costs.

Like most customers, the UBA paid 327% more for electricity, 249% more for water, and 143% more for gas than it did at the same time last year; electricity charges alone will jump from 19 million pesos ($2 million) in 2015 to 84 million pesos ($6 million) this year. UBA authorities estimate that the budget for general operating expenses, which was increased only 1.5% to 660 million pesos ($45 million) this year, will run out sometime in August - nearly four months before the end of the academic year.

The Ministry of Education indicated that 200 million of a 330 million peso ($23 million) debt from the federal government to the UBA has recently been covered. The University Student Federation (FUBA) pointed out, however, that an additional 711 million pesos ($50 million) approved in the federal budget last October for the UBA's teaching hospital and other health facilities has yet to be disbursed.

The option of dipping into the payroll budget is likewise limited, since most of the budget increase for this year has been absorbed by salary hikes already agreed to in collective bargaining. This year's, meanwhile, is still in deadlock as a result of the Macri administration's decision to offer UBA staff a 15% raise until October - a mere third of the projected annual inflation by then.

CONADU, the union representing the UBA's 32,000 teaching staff and 15,000 auxiliary staff, held a strike on April 27 and 28 to protest the decision.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.clarin.com/sociedad/UBA-afirman-presupuesto-alcanza-agosto_0_1562843942.html&prev=search

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