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ARGENTINA | 28-02-2020 13:52

Fernández praises Guzmán as IMF confirms team will visit next week

International Monetary Fund confirms it will send a mission team to Buenos Aires again next week to continue auditing public accounts.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has confirmed it will send a mission team to Buenos Aires next week to continue auditing public accounts.

Government sources also confirmed the news on Thursday evening to reporters.

The IMF team will again be led by its Deputy Director of the Western Hemisphere Department, Julie Kozack, and Mission Chief for Argentina, Luis Cubeddu, who visited the country earlier this month for a week-long stay from February 12 to 19. They ended their mission by concluding that Argentina's debt burden was "unsustainable" and indicated that private bondholders would have to make a "meaningful contribution" in restructuring talks – comments many analysts implied as tacit approval for the government to push through a haircut on money owed.

The news arrives less than 24 hours after IMF Spokesman Gerry Rice said Thursday that that there are no negotiations ongoing between Argentina and the institution over how to refinance the US$44 billion the country owes. Rice said that the two sides were having "conversations"  – not "negotiations."

"The intense dialogue between the Argentine authorities and the IMF continues," the IMF spokesman told reporters in Washington, describing the dialogue as "very constructive."

The government also recently confirmed that it would allow the IMF to conduct a so-called 'Article IV review,' a preliminary step that could eventually allow for a new programme with the Fund. IMF officials had not been blocked from doing so under the Kirchnerite administrations.

In recent weeks, IMF and Argentine officials have held a number of meetings, including on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, at which Economy Minister Martín Guzmán and IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva held discussions.

On Friday, Cabinet chief Santiago Cafiero, led a meeting at the Casa Rosada with Guzmán and the rest of his economic team. Talks forcused on the IMF mission team's arrival and expectations for the following week. Labour Minister Sergio Moroni, AFIP tax agency chief Mercedes Marcó del Pont, and Deputy Cabinet Chief Cecilia Todesca were also among those in attendance. 

Speaking during a radio interview, President Alberto Fernández expressed his support for Guzmán, praising his work and declaring that the IMF now had "another view" of Argentina.

"Nobody wants more than us for them see Argentina's accounts, so that they realise what [the Mauricio Macri administration] left us," the president told Radio 10.

The Peronist leader criticised his predecessor for gutting funds for social development, retirees and housing, and decrying the halting of all public works projects.

"Let them [the Macri administration] take responsibility for what they didn't look at, for what they didn't want to se," he said.

He also  stressed that he was right when he declared that the country was in "default," during last year's presidential campaign.

"Now, with great work from [Economy Minister] Martín [Guzmán], we have managed to make the Fund understand that what we say is true, [and] that we are right," he concluded.

– TIMES/NA

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