As the government ruthlessly cuts spending and President Mauricio Macri admits “poverty will increase,” an official bulletin released on Tuesday revealed Buenos Aires vice-mayor Diego Santilli’s expenses from high-class sushi, pizza and grill restaurants.
Within the first four months of 2018, Santilli claimed $148,712 pesos (nearly US$4000) in expenses. The most costly of these was a $24,865 peso (US $661) bill from steak restaurant La Brigada in San Telmo. This decadent steak night took place on the vice-mayor’s birthday, suggesting that government official was using tax-payer’s money to fund a personal celebration.
However, the Buenos Aires government informed El Destape that the steak evening bore no relation to Santilli’s birthday. “He wasn’t celebrating his birthday, that day his wife bought a cake to the cabinet’s headquarters,” they claimed. “The expense is for a management meeting with his cabinet.”
Government sources also spoke to El Perfil, assuring the news outlet that the expenses “went towards weekly café meetings with neighbours, chats with businessmen affected by public works and follow-up meetings with the vice-cabinet team.”
“Our management is characterised by being out on the streets, moving around and not being locked up in an office,” the government officials continued. “It’s both inevitable and reasonable that there would be expenses from gastronomic restaurants.”
Many of the expenses claimed came from the same restaurants, one of which is a renowned sushi establishment in Recoleta.
This comes just days after Macri admits the country is in an economic “emergency,” and Finance Minister Nicolás Dujovne is in Washington negotiating an earlier release of funds from the controversial IMF loan.
Political corruption is also very much in the spotlight at the moment in Argentina, as the notebooks of corruption scandal revealed that US$200 million was paid in bribes during the Kirchner presidencies.
With the Argentine public on high alert for any political attempts to financially endanger them any more than they already have done, the release of this bulletin has done nothing to assuage their fears.