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ARGENTINA | 12-09-2018 14:27

Economy Minister Dujovne discharged after overnight hospitalisation

Fifty-one-old was hospitalised Tuesday night after complaining of abdominal and chest pain.

Economy Minister Nicolás Dujovne was discharged Wednesday after spending the night hospitalised after suffering abdominal and chest pain.

The official underwent several cardiological studies, including a "coronary angiography" which produced "normal results," said a statement from the private Instituto Argentino de Diagnóstico y Tratamiento in the nation's capital, Buenos Aires.

Dujovne was hospitalsed Tuesday night and was kept in overnight for "monitoring and laboratory testing," the health facility said, indicating that he had already been discharged.

According to reports, the economy minister sought medical attention at 8pm Tuesday night, after a long working day that involved meetings with President Mauricio Macri and provincial governors on the 2019 budget.

Dujovne, 51, is leading negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over advanced disbursements of Argentina's three-year US$50-billion loan. Last week, Dujovne met with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in Washington, to discuss terms.

President Macri's administration is continuing talks with the IMF as efforts to stave off an economic crisis multiply. It has been a turbulent few months for the government, in which the peso, Argentina's national currency, has been badly hit by a crisis of confidence, while public protests have increased in regularity and fervour.

Earlier this year, the government approached the IMF and secured a US$50-billion loan, with an initial US$15-billion tranche of that handed over in June, in large part to prop up the peso. Although it briefly calmed the storm, market confidence waned again, in part due to the impact of the crisis in Turkey on the currencies of emerging countries.

Argentina went back to the IMF and asked for an advance on loan payments due in 2020 and 2021, but the announcement it was doing so hurt the peso again. In a desperate bid to steady turbulent waters, Argentina's Central Bank hiked interest rates to a world-high 60 percent until at least the end of the year. On Wednesday, the Central Bank confirmed it would keep the rate at 60 percent, while forecasting a recession for this year and next. Officials first hiked rates to 60 percent from 45 percent on August 30.

The government has told the IMF it will lower the fiscal deficit to zero in 2019, after registering 3.9 percent of GDP in 2017. Negotiations with provincial governors over the 2019 budget are ongoing. 

However, with inflation expected to top 40 percent for 2018,  Argentines are feeling the pinch from rising prices. The peso has lost about 50 percent of its value against the dollar since the beginning of the year.


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