A federal judge will decide if President Macri's administration had the authority to request the IMF loan. Argentina has been plagued by economic instability that threatens to spill over into the political arena.
Argentina's attorney general, Jorge Di Lello, announced on Wednesday that his office planned to investigate President Mauricio Macri for "abuse of power," stemming from a $50 billion (€42 billion) loan his administration secured from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The move underscores the repercussions that this year's economic turmoil is having in Argentine politics.
A formal complaint against Macri's government was made by former lawmaker Claudio Lozano and Jonatan Baldiviezo, of the NGO City Rights Observatory. They accuse members of the executive branch of being in "violation of public duties in bypassing congress" when they signed the accord with the IMF.
"Our constitution has established that it is Congress who has the sole authority to collect public debt and to enter into agreements with international agencies," Baldiviezo told the EFE news agency. In particular, the plaintiffs highlighted that Argentina's 2018 Budget Law also does not authorize the president to sign agreements with the IMF.
Lozano and Baldiviezo have asked attorney general Di Lello to suspend the execution of the IMF loan until the legal investigation has been resolved. But it will now be up to federal judge Julian Ercolini to decide this, and to deliver a final ruling on the case.
Macri's government had already publicly ruled out congressional authorization for the IMF loan request several weeks ago and has argued that the loan represents the only way to come through of the economic storm currently gripping the country.
The country's justice ministry said it would cooperate with the investigation, but noted that the inquiry seemed to be politically motivated. "Clearly these are actions that have no basis, that are attached to political complaints that have previously been made," Minister of Justice German Garavano told Argentine media.
Argentina relying solely on the IMF
A freefall in the valuation of the peso was mitigated last week by Macri's request to speed up the $50 billion loan disbursement and the Central Bank's 15-point interest rate hike.
Economy Minister Nicolas Dujovne said on Wednesday that the government is not seeking other sources of financing outside the IMF for help in curbing an economic crisis, saying that he was dealing directly with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
"I have enormous confidence in the progress that we've made these days," Dujovne said at a news conference in Washington after his second day of talks with the IMF.
"The reformulation of the (IMF) program will help us leave behind these days of anguish and volatility and will slowly allow the opening of credit to Argentina," he said. "It will open the doors to private financing and that way we will be able to get back on the path of growth," he added.
The IMF loan comes with a guarantee from Argentina that it will implement new austerity measures, which the government had already begun implementing.
jcg/kl (EFE, AFP, dpa)