President Eduardo Duhalde on Monday thanked his ministers for helping to stem over the past year a social, political and economic crisis that took Argentina only a step away from anarchy. One year ago, when we assumed power, the country was just a step away from anarchy, with clashes among Argentines, Duhalde said at a meeting of some 450 government officials at the Olivos presidential residence.
Duhalde said he was very proud of his ministers and that Argentina had overcome "the worst of the crisis" inherited from former President Fernando de la Rua. De la Rua resigned on Dec. 20, 2001 amid rioting and demonstrations that left more than two dozen people dead.
"There is a new economy up and running, based on production and work for our people, following the collapse of the previous model," Duhalde said.
Duhalde, who took office Jan. 1 after being designated by Congress, said his ministers supported him "when many (leaders) preferred to flee" rather than deal with the social crisis.
Duhalde also pointed out that, unlike the presidencies of De la Rua and Carlos Menem, no corruption allegations had been made against his administration.
Accumulated inflation has risen to 41 percent this year and the gross domestic product will finish down between 10 and 11 percent, the biggest drop in Argentina's history.
Duhalde's administration has forecast economic growth of 3 percent in 2003, following four years of recession-depression.
Budget guidelines, meanwhile, have been set with the goal of reaching an accord with the International Monetary Fund. Duhalde is banking on a long-delayed agreement to allow Argentina to reschedule debt repayments to multilateral lending institutions.
At the end of last year, Argentina defaulted on some $114 billion in debts to private creditors.