Following yesterday’s report by Forex Magnates on Argentina’s peculiar move to issue the Cedin pseudo-currency in place of undeclared US Dollars, a further twist came to light on Friday.
Buenos Aires City Hall and the local government in the province of Cordoba have simultaneously announced that they will carry out audits to all those who enter the “currency” via the tax amnesty law, in order that they can target Argentine citizens for collection of what the governmental departments deem to be possible arrears in gross income tax.
It is estimated that Argentinians hold approximately $160 billion in US dollars in the foreign currency, most of which is held abroad or in a concealed account, however the federal government led by Cristina Kirchner has made several attempts to put a stop to this, including passing a law to make it illegal for Argentine citizens to use or hold the currency in 2011.
High Potential Risk
Not only does the introduction of the Cedin therefore pose the risk insofar as holders of US Dollars could hand over their very stable and valuable currency in favor of an unproven pseudo-currency which would mean putting trust in the Argentinian banking system which backs it, a concept regarding which it is doubtful that many would relish, but it also means repatriation of those funds in exchange for Cedins could also result in a slap in the face from the tax office.
Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri stated publicly on Friday that the government is analyzing the possibility of conducting fiscal monitoring of those citizens who bring back their undeclared US Dollars through the amnesty.
He explained that “Finance Minister Néstor Grindetti is analyzing the situation, then we will decide what measures to take.”
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Meanwhile, Cordoba’s government warned that those who whitewash their undeclared assets through the Cedin certificates will “be identified and their activities checked to determine the sum they’ll have to pay in gross income tax.”
“Although there are aspects which are not defined or regulated, the provincial tax bureau will search and analyze what goes on with the Cedins, as with any other taxpayer,” explained Cordoba’s Finance Minister Angel Elettore.
Potential Compulsory Outflow of US Dollars
In the United States, it the Cedin appears to have extremely limited credibility among financial markets senior executives, and the government of Argentina’s attempts to force repatriation of undeclared dollars in exchange for such an unknown currency is not one which is overly popular north of the border, as it could result in an outflow of up to $160 billion from US accounts.
Mr. Macri himself described the Cedin certificates as “a parallel coin with no backing”.
Daniel Volberg, an economist at Morgan Stanley opined during an interview with Bloomberg on the subject that “the tax amnesty plan will probably fail as it isn’t addressing inflation, which is the cause behind the decline in foreign exchange reserves. The real driving-force for why we have FX reserve losses, why you have poor confidence, and why you have poor growth in Argentina is inflation” he said.
Argentina has made 30 attempts to crack down on those using or holding dollars since 2011, and is in the grip of a free-falling decline in national foreign exchange reserves, having lost $2.84 billion just in the first three months of this year, quite a catastrophic figure.