Monday, August 15, 2022

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Argentina economy minister vows to respect IMF deficit deal

 Argentina economy minister vows to respect IMF deficit deal

New Argentine Economy Minister Sergio Massa speaks during a press conference after his swearing-in in Buenos Aires, on August 3, 2022

Buenos Aires – Argentina’s new economic “super minister” pledged on Wednesday to respect the crisis-wracked country’s commitment with the IMF to reduce its public deficit to 2.5 percent this year.

As part of Argentina’s long-running negotiations with the International Monetary Fund to restructure a $44 billion debt, authorities had agreed to progressively reduce the public deficit from three percent in 2021 to 0.9 percent by 2024.

“We will meet the goal of the 2.5 percent primary fiscal deficit. We will make the necessary corrections to comply with our word,” said Sergio Massa, in an announcement of his first measures as the new “super minister” in charge of the economy, development and agriculture ministries, as well as relations with international organizations.

Argentina has suffered years of economic crisis, with some 37 percent of its population now living in poverty.

Inflation for the first half of this year alone topped 36 percent, and is predicted to reach 80 percent by the year’s end.

Speaking at a press conference after being officially presented by President Alberto Fernandez in his new job, Massa described inflation as the “biggest poverty factory” in the country.

“Inflation is one of the main issues to fight. The last month and the one just started will be the most difficult in terms of inflation and from there we will begin a downward curve,” said Massa, 50, a lawyer by trade who on Tuesday resigned as president of the lower house of congress to take up his new post.

“We are beginning a new stage of government that I am convinced we will come through successfully,” said Fernandez at Massa’s swearing in ceremony.

One of Massa’s toughest challenges will be to increase Argentina’s available international reserves, which analysts say are at critical levels.

A problem he won’t be able to solve, though, is the ongoing power struggle inside the ruling Frente de Todos political coalition between Fernandez and Vice President Cristina Kirchner, herself a former president.