Argentina Increases Travel Bureaucracy as Reserves Run Low

Argentina will oblige airlines to provide detailed information about passengers on international flights in what analyst Luis Secco called an attempt to discourage overseas travel amid dwindling foreign reserves.

The tax agency published a resolution requiring airlines to answer 32 questions about passengers that include travel itineraries, the method of payment for flights and the number of no-shows and last-minute bookings.

The requirements are designed to deter Argentines who haven’t paid all their taxes or who obtained their foreign currency through the black market from traveling abroad, said Secco, the director of Buenos Aires-based research company Perspectiv@s Economicas. It’s the latest in a series of measures to halt the exit of dollars out of the economy following Argentina’s second default in 13 years in July, he said.

“It’s a way for the tax agency to obtain information it couldn’t get before and that obviously deters people who work in the informal economy,” Secco said in a phone interview. “It’s additional bureaucracy that acts as a deterrent.”

Reserves have fallen 19 percent in the past year, fueled in part by the $2.7 billion spent by Argentines abroad in that period, according to data compiled by the national statistics agency. The government last year increased a tax on credit card purchases abroad to 35 percent from 20 percent in a bid to deter Argentines spending dollars on holiday.

The measure is designed to modernize and improve the country’s immigration policy, Ricardo Echegaray, head of the tax agency, said in an e-mailed statement, dismissing “politicized” interpretations by local media. “Passengers won’t have to provide a single extra piece of data,” he said.

Demand for dollars has increased after the default on July 30. In the black market that Argentines turn to when they can’t get dollars from the government, the peso has weakened 22 percent to 15.7 pesos per dollar since the default, according to ambito.com.

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