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News > Latin America

Argentine President Named in Panama Papers Wants Amnesty for Tax Evaders

  • A demonstrator holds up a placard with images depicting Argentine President Mauricio Macri with the word

    A demonstrator holds up a placard with images depicting Argentine President Mauricio Macri with the word "Corrupt" written over it during a protest against layoffs in Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 2, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 June 2016

The government of Mauricio Macri is proposing to cover pensions of retired workers with a "tax amnesty."

Argentina's Congress is set to discuss a tax amnesty bill proposed by President Mauricio Macri, which looks to provide an out to tax evaders with undeclared holdings and assets inside the country and overseas.

Macri Backs Tax Breaks for the Rich, Layoffs for the Poor

Macri’s proposal came out in May – a month after he was named in the Panama Papers leak as having at least eight tax haven companies founded and run by friends and relatives who used the Panamanian Mossack Fonseca law firm.

The country's opposition has criticized the law – which is actually being discussed as part of a pension reform package – saying Macri is trying to benefit himself from this "tax whitewash bill" and experts add that the government may also wants to imprison journalists who identify tax dodgers.

However the government said the amnesty is designed to fund pensions, with funds raised through the amnesty going towards retirement payments of over 300,000 pensioners. According to government figures, up to US$20 billion could be raised – a number that is being rejected by some quarters.

Former President Cristina Fernandez took to social media to criticize the proposal, calling it a “legislative snafu" that would “destroy the current pension system."

“What caught my attention was the hodgepodge of themes: money laundering, retirees, judgments, changes on the retirement ages ... a real legislative snafu,” Fernandez said.

154,000 Argentine Workers Have Lost Their Jobs Under Macri

Fernandez pointed out that the package proposes to "eliminate progressive taxation (on personal goods and financial assets) for those who have more,” while also creating a “gag law” on journalists covering allegations of corruption and tax evasion in Argentina following the pubication of the Panama Papers.

Fernandez's government nationalized the pension system in 2008, after the system was privatized in the 1990's. Macri's government, who has implemented a number of neoliberal policies, is looking to re-privatize the pension system while also increasing women's retirement age from 60 to 65.

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