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ARGENTINA | 07-03-2022 10:23

Deputies to start debating IMF deal as key week gets underway

After months of negotiation between the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Argentina's Congress will finally begin to officially debate a bill outlining the new financing programme this week.

After months of negotiation between the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Argentina's Congress will this Monday finally begin to officially debate the bill outlining the new financing programme finalised last week.

The Executive branch and its parliamentary leaders are working against the clock to get the votes that will guarantee approval by the end of the week.

So far, the ruling coalition has not even secured all of its own votes – those closest to the La Cámpora youth organisation have not revealed how they will vote, offering only renewed criticism of the multilateral lender. This Sunday, President Alberto Fernández said in a speech that "nobody is happy" with the agreement reached with the Fund and that he dislikes the Fund, although he denied that it implies "a strong conditioning" of the government's economic policy.

While participating in an event at the Kirchner Cultural Centre (CCK) organised by the Argentine Federation of Municipalities (FAM), together with Peronist councillors and mayors of Peronism, the head of state said that despite having been critical of the management of Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's two terms as head of state, he "never" criticised "its policy of no indebtedness."

"I have been critical of Cristina, but I have never criticised her policy of not going into debt," he said.

Meanwhile, the president dismissed criticism from Kirchnerite sectors of the ruling coalition that the agreement will deliver austerity to Argentina. 

"Now that we have to face this agreement with the Fund that no-one is happy about, some believe that this is a strong conditioning for us, that is going to stop us in our collective desires. I want them to know that I negotiated for two years so that this would not happen," he argued.

The speech came as members of the ruling coalition met with Economy Minister Martín Guzmán to discuss the deal's fine print, with the official seeking to persuade those who remain on the fence.

According to reporting by the Noticias Argentinas news agency, at least one key deputy from Juntos por el Cambio who took part in theavirtual meeting on Sunday to bring the different sectors of the opposition alliance closer together.

Sources said there was already "a first point of agreement, which is not to push the country into default," insisting that the idea is to "vote as cohesively as possible."

A second point of agreement has also been added, which has to do with opposition lawmakers authorising the government to refinance the debt with the IMF, but without endorsing the economic programme provided by Guzmán in the annexes of the law.

In general terms, leaders in Juntos por el Cambio they do not want the government to "share the costs" of the application of the policies agreed by the government with the IMF.

For his part, the head of the ruling coalition's caucus in the lower house, Germán Martínez, said: "I am moderately optimistic about [the approval]. We are going to work to get this bill through. The commitment of the bloc I chair is to support the President of the Nation. We know that there are different internal views. We prioritise unity in the diversity of opinions."

 

– TIMES/PERFIL/AFP

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