Argentine President Alberto Fernández Tuesday said his country was still fine-tuning details of an agreement with The International Monetary Fund (IMF) regarding the repayment of a US $ 44 bn loan taken during the Mauricio Macri administration.
Fernández's remarks came during the traditional March 1 opening of each year's Legislature. Even today we are still negotiating aspects related to the formalization of that agreement, which I hope to conclude shortly, Fernandez said.
As of this week, we hope that it will be in the hands of lawmakers to consider the approval of the agreement that is reached with the IMF staff, he added.
A month ago, Fernández had announced a preliminary agreement with the IMF, which would allow Argentina to refinance the 2018 stand-by loan.
Fernández has long insisted the new agreement would not entail greater sacrifices and ruled out a labor or pension reform. But the final wording is yet to be penned.
In the global context in which we live and taking into account the magnitude of the commitments that Argentina assumed, and that we seek to modify, defending the rights of our people demands much more than five minutes, Fernández justified after months of negotiations.
Regarding subsidies to utilities, Fernández announced they will be reduced gradually. He also promised bills will not rise above salary increases.
Fernández's center-left government lacks an absolute majority in houses of Congress, which needs to approve the deal with the Fund.
Argentina is reportedly seeking a new agreement with extended maturities from 2026 to 2034, for which it would be required to cut down its fiscal deficit from 3% of GDP to 0.9% in 2024.
According to the current agreement, Argentina should pay some US $ 18 bn this year and 19 bn in 2023, which seems impossible to achieve.
Inflation is the big problem that Argentine men and women have at this time and, without a doubt, it is also the main concern and the main challenge of the Government, Fernández reckoned.
The President also praised the role of industrial developments in the post-pandemic economic recovery the country is going through.
Regarding the deal with the IMF, Fernández stressed that “without an agreement, we will not be able to help build certainty; the agreement that we announced weeks ago on the framework of economic policies is the best agreement that the government of Argentina could achieve.
Fernández also vowed to boost production and exports to generate employment, improve income, generate foreign currencies and lower inflation. It is not about exporting at the expense of the domestic market; it is about exporting to improve the lives of Argentines,” he stressed.