Javier Milei takes a chainsaw to Argentina’s state companies(Ciara Nugent, 3/21/24, Financial Times)

“All of these companies . . . spend 20 per cent of their budgets on delivering their specific goals, and 80 per cent on management costs,” Guillermo Francos, Milei’s interior minister, told Argentine television network LN+ last month. “We must strive for efficiency.”

ASAP, a local NGO tracking government finances, found Milei had cut transfers to state companies to 456bn pesos, or $535mn at the official exchange rate, in February — a 61 per cent decline in inflation-adjusted terms from the same month in 2023.

The roughly 40 state-owned companies provide public services including passenger rail, sewerage and energy. Most operated at a loss under previous governments. Now Milei’s administration has appointed new management at many of them, with a mandate to slash staff numbers and revamp their strategies.

Juan Cruz Díaz, managing director of the Cefeidas political consultancy, said: “There’s a lot of space to cut costs, make things more efficient, improve management [in Argentina’s state companies]. But the government has an ambition to move much more intensely. This is a question of principles as much as costs.”