Reuters International

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri gestures as he speaks during the opening session of the 134th legislative term at the Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 1, 2016. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

(reuters_tickers)

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's President Mauricio Macri on Friday made good on his threat to veto a bill intended to prevent private and public sector layoffs, saying that the law would hurt job growth and likely sparking the ire of the country's powerful unions.

Opposition lawmakers, who have warned that up to 150,000 jobs could be lost this year, approved the bill on Thursday in the lower chamber of Congress, where they hold control.

"Today using my constitutional powers, I'm going to veto this bill which I believe is anti jobs," said Macri in a televised speech.

The bill will likely be formally vetoed on Monday when the official gazette is published.

Macri, who took power in December on a pro-business platform, has argued the bill would block the government's efforts to revive the economy after years of interventionist policies under his predecessor and would ultimately undermine job growth.

His government has already lifted capital controls, spurred a devaluation of the peso and cut export taxes, whetting investor appetite to funnel money into Latin America's third largest economy.

But Macri's policies have also swelled the ranks of the poor, souring public opinion and raising the risk of backlash against the economic overhaul that is winning over foreign investors.

Macri anticipated that vetoing the bill would likely be an unpopular move.

"To those who told me that it's not worth it, it's demagogic, you'll save yourself protests. It's better to let (the bill) pass. I didn't come here to do what is good for me, I came to do what is good for Argentina," said Macri.

As of mid-April, Macri's government had trimmed a net 10,000 jobs from the public payroll, while the private sector has lost around 30,000 jobs and another 15,000 so-called "informal" jobs.

(This story has been refiled to fix typo in word "of" in first paragaph)

(Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Alistair Bell)

reuters_tickers

 Reuters International