Argentina to finance 1 million home PCs

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"Government issue"

Argentina is planning to provide financing for 1 million computers for home

users, most of whom will be government workers.

The plan, aimed at lower middle-class and working-class households,

is intended to help people who have either restricted credit or no credit

to buy their own computers and have Internet access.

The outline of the plan has been presented to Argentine President Fernando

De la Rua and probably will be announced officially next month, said Ricardo

Camperos, coordinator of the Electronic Commerce Program of the Argentine

Secretariat for Science, Technology and Productive Innovation.

It will enable any federal, provincial or town council employee to buy

a computer costing between $800 and $1,000 in installments from $28 monthly.

The installments will be deducted from the employee's pay slip, Camperos

said.

Banco de la Nacion has a $1 billion credit line for the project, Camperos

said. The money will be distributed at an 18 percent annual interest rate

for financing PC purchases in 24 to 36 installments. The most expensive

computer and the shortest repayment period will result in installments of

$50 monthly.

Government officials have held negotiations with computer vendors and

Internet service providers for furnishing the hardware and the Internet

accounts necessary for the plan to work. Terms of Internet access have yet

to be worked out.

Vendors must guarantee that computers will reach "even the most remote

and isolated towns in Argentina," Camperos said.

As of January, there were about 470,000 Internet accounts in homes and

businesses, serving about 770,000 people in Argentina. That amount is about

1 percent of the Argentine population.

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