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ECONOMY | 19-05-2022 16:09

IMF spokesperson on quarterly review: Targets in Argentina’s debt deal ‘have not changed’

Fund Spokesperson Gerry Rice says staff are making “good progress” in review of debt restructuring deal, but that its “objectives have not changed.”

The International Monetary Fund says that its first quarterly review of Argentina’s US$44.5-billion debt restructuring programme is making “good progress” but that the “objectives and targets” outlined in the plan “have not changed.”

Speaking at a press conference, IMF Spokesperson Gerry Rice confirmed that the review – brought forward to mid-May from its original June date – is already underway and that a communiqué about its findings would be issued promptly.

"I would characterise the status of the discussions on the first review as good progress being made," said Rice.

"We hope to communicate about the conclusion of the mission soon," he added, without providing a date.

The multilateral lender agreed a new financing deal with President Alberto Fernández's government back in March that restructured Argentina's remaining debt to the Fund from the record US$57-billion stand-by loan granted to the Mauricio Macri administration in 2018. 

However, IMF officials have previously admitted that it may be necessary to recalibrate policies, taking into account the war in Ukraine, Argentina’s socio-political context and the latent effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said last month that implementation should be “calibrated to reflect changes in the global economy.”

Back in April, Rice said that Argentina's economic situation is "fragile," citing rampant inflation and high levels of poverty as causes for concern, among others.


Targets unchanged

Pressed about whether its targets had been altered in the wake of the global fall-out from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Rice clarified Thursday that the “programme objectives and targets have not changed."

“The authorities remain committed to implementing the programme – it is their economic programme, and in this context they are making sure that the targets can be achieved," he added.

"The IMF team has been working virtually with [Economy] Minister Martín Guzmán and his technical team to advance the first review of the programme,” explained Rice. 

“The teams are assessing the impact of the war in Ukraine on Argentina's economic outlook," he added, declaring that both parties "are working to prioritise policies as appropriate, in order to ensure that the objectives and goals of the programme are met."
The comments imply that while some wiggle-room may be granted on specific policies, key macroeconomic targets will not be modified.

The central points of the deal’s first quarterly review, which is being carried out remotely, are the accumulation of foreign currency reserves for the Central Bank reserves, steps to tackle runaway inflation (running at 58 percent over the last 12 months) and a new plan to restructure energy subsidies.

IMF Western Hemisphere Director Ilan Goldfajn said last month that the benchmarks of the loan may not be changed, though other parts of the deal, such as the annual inflation estimate of between 38 and 48 percent this year, may be modified.

The government has already stated that another of the programme's objectives, the reduction of the country’s primary deficit, was met.

If the review is successful, the IMF will release a disbursement of a further US$4.1 billion to Argentina at the beginning of June to cover a repayment to the Fund due on June 22.


– TIMES/NA
 

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