The Macri administration pulled a bit of a 180 when they decided to modify the newest tax amnesty law to now allow for family members of all public officials to declare previously undeclared assets under its protection. The only requirement is to credit these assets as being theirs before the public official they are related to took office.
The fact that this clause was removed from the original project after Elisa Carrió, one of the Cambiemos coalition’s founding members, criticized it, raises questions about about how morally correct the measure is.
That’s why several voices within the government coalition — not from President Mauricio Macri’s PRO party, obviously — and especially from the opposition came out to criticize the decision. The latter also seized the opportunity to put the spotlight on President Macri’s father, Franco. Carrió hasn’t weighed in on the matter yet, but she’s probably far from pleased. In contrast, Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña defended the measure, arguing “it’s within the spirit of the law.”
Quick recap on the law in question here. Macri’s administration is allowing Argentine citizens and residents to declare previously undeclared assets by paying a 10-percent penalty tax without being asked where that money came from. So far, US $21.8 billion has been declared. This figure includes money coming in from assets, bank accounts, and cash declared within and from outside Argentina.
Mario Negri, Deputy representing the Radical Party (UCR) — one of the three parties comprising the Cambiemos coalition — and leader of the Cambiemos caucus in the Chamber of Deputies, took to Twitter to express his concern: “I believe inconvenient any way of including people who have been exempted from the Tax Amnesty Law,” he said.
BLaNQUEO:Ratifico lo manifestado oportunamente. Creo inconveniente cualquier forma de incluir a los ya exceptuados en la lay de Blanqueo.
— Mario Raul Negri (@marioraulnegri) December 1, 2016
— Bloque UCR – HCDN (@diputadosucr) December 1, 2016
But despite the message that a high-ranking member of the party criticizing the government’s decision sends, it was the opposition who took the chance to land several easy jabs at the administration. The argument? Should the family members enter the whitewashing, this would prove officials in some way have ties with this ill gotten money. The preferred target was Franco Macri, who throughout the years has been under scrutiny several times due to his financial handlings.
The most vocal outcry came from National Deputy and son of former Presidents Nestor and Cristina Kirchner, Máximo. In an interview with Radio Del Plata, Kirchner said that when he learned about the decision “a phrase my father said back in 2007 came to mind. ‘Mauricio is Macri,’ he said, and the clear proof that Mauricio is Macri is this decree,” he said.
Basically saying that the President will never stop having the mindset of his family, which some consider to have taken part in shady business deals throughout the years. The decree, then, would be a way of taking advantage from public office to help their family members bring money of dubious origins into the legal circuit.
Thing is that generally, when the potential shady activity of an official’s family member is being discussed, it’s the official who’s under the spotlight. Therefore, those who follow this line of thought tend to be skeptical about officials, wondering why they should believe they now respect the law when they didn’t do it before. If, at that time, they weren’t looking out for the state’s best interests – instead focusing on their own profit – it wouldn’t be far fetched to think they could embezzle public funds.
However, when defending the decision, Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña took some distance from those reached by the policy and said that in no way applies to them. “There’s no margin to think that in any way an official will be indirectly affected by the law,” he said.
We’ll see what Carrió says about that.