LatAm Daily News Roundup: May 28th

Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.

Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.

Argentina's primary deficit soared in April as the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic forced the government to introduce fiscal stimulus and income slumped. The country's public sector registered a primary budget deficit, which excludes interest payments, of 228.8 billion pesos ($3.4 billion), an 83% percent increase compared to the deficit in March, and a huge increase on the March 2019 level of 498 million pesos. The country also registered 45% inflation in April. Government expenditure in April increased by 97% year-on-year as a result of increased social spending and government transfers, according to the economy ministry said. Argentina’s death toll from Covid-19 hit 500 on Thursday, with almost 14,000 confirmed cases.

Brazil suffered 1.1 million formal job losses during March and April as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The job losses follow a strong start to the year for employment creation, with 338,000 jobs created in the first two months of the year, which was almost a 50% increase over the same two months of 2019, according to local media. April proved to be the harshest month for the Brazilian job market, with the closing of 860,000 vacancies, and which was the worst month on record fo the sector, according to the economy ministry. Brazil’s death toll from Covid-19 is currently 25,935, with 419,000 confirmed cases.

Chile has registered a record number of new Covid-19 cases in one day, with 4,654 cases reported overnight Wednesday, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases of the virus to almost 87,000, while the death toll stands at 890, up by 49 from the day before. Of those patients undergoing treatment, 239 are in a critical condition, according to the health ministry. The metropolitan area of Santiago has been the hardest hit, with a total of 69,915 reported cases and a death toll of 638. Cases resurged in Chile following an easing of lockdown measures, leading the government to re-impose strict lockdown measures in the capital earlier this month.

Ecuador’s telecommunications ministry Mintel has announced plans to temporarily free up mobile spectrum with the aim of alleviating the impact of the Covid-19 impact on networks. The ministry said moves to improve internet access across the country include a temporary allocation of spectrum to operators for 12 months to boost capacity and quality of service as a result of a 40% surge in traffic over the past two months while the country has been in lockdown, with many more people working remotely from home. Additional measures to range from a simplification of procedures for granting licenses to small ISPs, according to Telecompaper. Mintel also pledged to install more Wi-Fi hotspots in universities, regional government offices and other public sector entities.

Mexico is on the verge of suffering a “massive” unemployment crisis, according to the central bank. More jobs have been lost over the last month and a half than during the entire year of 2008-09 following the subprime crisis in the US, the bank said as a comparison. Between mid-March and the end of April, 750,000 formal jobs were lost, the bank said. The figures do not include the informal sector, in which millions of Mexicans are employed. Mexico’s GDP is expected to fall by 8.8% this year, the bank forecasts, signaling the country’s deepest recession in more than 80 years. Mexico’s death toll from Covid-19 hit 8,597 on Thursday, with more than 78,000 confirmed cases.

Peru’s government estimates that the country’s tourism sector will suffer losses of $3.3 billion this year, with a 53% drop in tourism arrivals between January and May, a drop which is expected to increase to 70% by year’s end. Arrivals in March totaled 114,000, one-third of the number registered in March 2019. To mitigate those losses, the government has announced subsidies for the sector and promotional campaigns to reactivate the sector and the handicrafts sector, as well as tax breaks, Vicente Zeballos, president of the Council of Ministers, said on Thursday. Peru has so far recorded 3,983 deaths from Covid-19, with some 136,000 confirmed cases.


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