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ECONOMY | 14-05-2021 14:16

President Fernández holds 'positive' talks with IMF chief in Rome

President Alberto Fernández said Friday he was hoping to renegotiate Argentina's debt "as quickly as possible," after talks with the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Rome.

President Alberto Fernández said Friday he was hoping to renegotiate Argentina's debt "as quickly as possible," after talks with the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Rome.

Fernandez told reporters it had been a "very constructive" and "very frank meeting, where we expressed our will to resolve the problem of Argentine debt."

He said he wanted to "find an agreement as quickly as possible", while adding: "We cannot think about an agreement which demands more efforts from the Argentine people."

For her part, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said it was a "very positive meeting" where they discussed the "deep social and economic challenges" facing Argentina that have been aggravated by the pandemic.

She said they committed to keep working together "on an IMF-supported programme that can help Argentina and its people overcome these challenges, by strengthening economic stability, protecting the most vulnerable and setting the basis for more sustainable and inclusive growth."

"I also took note of President Fernández's request for a reform of the IMF's surcharges policy," she said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Fernández called for the IMF to suspended surchages applied by the lender to countries that use its credit lines extensively.

“I expect its suspension during the pandemic. I hope the Fund’s board discuss this in its October meeting, and once and for all, eliminates them,” said the Peronist leader on Tuesday after meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

The IMF charges a rate of 200 basis points over outstanding loans above 187.5 percent of a country’s quota, surging to 300 basis points if a credit remains above this percentage after three years, according to its website. 

The multilateral lender says it imposes surcharges on some debtors to create an incentive for nations to exit its lending programmes as quickly as possible.

Argentina is looking to replace a lending programme signed by the previous government in 2018 under which it currently owes the IMF about US$45 billion.

In recession since 2018, the former Spanish colony must also repay a US$2.4-billion loan with the Paris Club of creditor countries that provide sustainable solutions to debtor countries.

Fernandez this week visited Portugal, France and Spain before heading to Italy, where he also met with fellow Argentine Pope Francis.

– TIMES/AFP/BLOOMBERG

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