IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde confirmed to the Argentine media that next February first the fund will be assessing her critical report on Argentine statistics, which could lead to sanctions for the country.
“It will on February first”, said Ms Lagarde during her first press conference of the year, when asked on the issue, and contrary to other occasions did not make any further comments.
This would be the definitive assessment of the Argentine case following on repeated postponements. After the evaluation, and according to procedure, IMF directors could consider a ‘red card’ against Argentina given the limited reliability of the country’s stats mainly referred to inflation and GDP, which are the most questioned both domestically and internationally.
At the beginning of this month the Argentine government official stats office, Indec, published that during 2012 prices advanced 10.8%, less than half the average from the consultants, censored by the government, and which reported 25.6% through the so called Congress index.
The IMF announcement of the stats report evaluation day comes at a bad moment for President Cristina Fernandez administration which was expecting the issue could be delayed until after the ongoing court case in New York by the hedge funds that are demanding full payment of capital and interest of Argentine defaulted sovereign bonds. These hedge funds are among the 7% of bond holders that did not accept the debt restructuring process of 2005 and 2010.
Parallel to Ms Lagarde confirmation of the stats controversy, a delegation from the IMF and World Bank are expected next March in Buenos Aires for an assessment of the country’s financial system. This would be the second time IMF staff arrives in Argentina during the administration of Cristina Fernandez. The first was back in 2011 when the now failed commitment from Argentina to improve its inflation and GDP stats with the support from the IMF and which has led to the current dispute.