UPDATE 1-Growers derail tax hike in Argentine farm province

miércoles 16 de mayo de 2012 21:14 ART

* Halt to tax hike seen as setback for Governor Scioli

* Growers say proposed tax hike would be crippling

* Provincial farmers call five-day strike in protest

* Growers inundate provincial capital in lobbying blitz

By Hugh Bronstein

BUENOS AIRES, May 16 (Reuters) - A last-minute lobbying blitz by farmers in Argentina's top grains province, Buenos Aires, stopped local lawmakers from raising land taxes on Wednesday in an unexpected setback for Governor Daniel Scioli.

The governor, seen by many international investors as a possible market-friendly presidential candidate in 2015, is hard pressed to increase provincial tax income. But the country's key farm sector came out in force against his tax hike bill just as the Buenos Aires Chamber of Deputies looked sure to pass it.

Soybean and corn growers called a five-day strike and descended on the provincial capital La Plata, chanting in the streets and knocking on lawmakers' doors. They say the measure would increase real state taxes by up to 300 percent in some cases.

Instead of being easily passed, as expected, a quorum could not be reached and the legislative session was suspended until Thursday. The tax plan, which sailed through the provincial Senate last week, is key to Scioli's effort at reducing Buenos Aires' fiscal deficit and gaining some financial independence from President Cristina Fernandez.   Continuación...