Monday, June 5, 2023

ARGENTINA | 18-02-2020 13:59

IMF mission team keeps low profile during time in Argentina

Officials from the International Monetary Fund depart Buenos Aires on Wednesday, after meeting with a host of ministers from the Argentine government.

Talks between government officials and representatives from the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) are still ongoing, but with one day left before the mission team ends their stay in Buenos Aires, little news is creeping out.

IMF officials have held regular meetings with officials focused on the economy and have focused on the Treasury's accounts, Perfil reported over the weekend, adding that issues such as hunger, poverty and even the introduction of food stamps have also been discussed.

On Friday, the head of IMF's Argentine delegation, Luis Cubeddu, and the Fund's chief Western Hemisphere director, Julie Kozack, met with Martín Guzmán and his team. The meeting was part of "the round of consultations they are holding in the country to exchange views with Argentine officials on the debt sustainability programme," the Economy Ministry said in a statement.

The Institution is carrying out its own assessment to see if it agrees that Argentina's debt burden is unsustainable, which would enable it to renegotiate payment terms without having to use the IMF's extended facilities plan.

Social audit

The IMF delegation will remain a week in Argentina, until Wednesday, February 19, "with the objective of learning about the current economic and social situation of the country and the progress of the economic programme being carried out by the government,” according to a press release

Sergio Chodos, the IMF's head for the Southern Cone, has also participated in meetings with Guzmán.

On Thursday, Fund officials met with the Productive Development Minister Matías Kulfas, Labour Minister Claudio Moroni, Social Development Minister Daniel Arroyo and their respective teams, as well as senior officials from the INDEC national statistics bureau.

For an hour and a half, talks focused on the social situation and the government's 'Plan Against Hunger,' as well as studying what can be consumed with the food stamp programmes and the real-time evaluation of nutritional improvements.

Before departing Buenos Aires, a meeting is also scheduled with Central Bank Governor Miguel Pesce. The IMF team is also expected to issue a statement at the end of the team's visit to Argentina, sometime on Wednesday.

Strategic price freeze 

On Monday, Kulfas underlined that "there will not be a permanent freeze" on public service fees, despite speculation.

Speaking at a press conference, the minister also explained that the subsidies would be reduced in "reasonable and accessible" measures, with the aim of controlling inflation.

During his meeting last Thursday with Kozak and Cubeddu, IMF officials were said to be eager for further details of the government's plan to tackle subsidies

Kulfas said Monday that the government "sees [the partial freezing of tariffs] as an instrument that can help reduce inflation."

The minister said the status quo would not be sustained for long. "Rather, [we will] make a review that allows for a reduction, where possible, in the costs of the electricity and gas system, and to be able to generate reasonable and accessible rates," he added. 

"We had a very positive response from the Fund representatives who were at the meeting," Kulfas told the press, noting that the meeting was held on "very good terms.” 

"The organisation wanted to know some central elements of the productive development programme," he expanded, and "how we are seeing the issue of the economic and social agreement, our estimates, and how the ‘Precios Cuidados’ [price-controls] programme is evolving.”



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