Top officials in the Mauricio Macri administration spent their weekend on a media offensive, attempting to ease fears about the potential impact of the so-called “notebook” corruption scandal on the country’s already shaky economy.
Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña was the latest to speak out. In an interview published yesterday in La Nación, he said “the notebook case will not affect public works projects”.
“This has to do with people and the Judiciary. Companies are broader entities than individuals and what they (individuals) might do in that place”, he said. “When a crime is being investigated, it does not mean a company cannot continue working”, Peña insisted.
However, he did recognise the negative attention the case was bringing Argentina, saying the scandal involving an alleged graft ring during the previous Kirchner administration added “another element of noise around our economy”.
Peña’s statements come as the dollar continues to surge and interest in the government’s Public-Private Participation (PPP) programme wanes.
In the past few days, several Macri government officials have spoken out about the scandal, which has rattled the political elite and Argentina's business community, particularly the construction sector.
Production Minister Dante Sica told the Todo Noticias channel that “the international financial system is overreacting” to the “notebook” affair and foresaw a prompt return to calm.
“In Brazil, the neutron bomb fell on Petrobras, the country’s largest company. Besides, it involved construction companies that had business in other sectors and, facing the crisis, had to liquidate assets that affected other sectors of the country’s economy”, he said.
“It affected politicians or officials who were part of the government. Here, we are seeing a bribery, embezzlement, and corruption scheme that does not taint the government,” he added.
Peña took a similar line, saying “the government is not being investigated, rather it's about the previous government”.
“Today, our tenders are transparent, and with 40 percent fewer costs than before. Public works contracts are not compromised by this investigation. When it happened in Brazil, there were other conditions”, he added.