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ARGENTINA | 19-06-2020 01:59

Santiago Cafiero: Argentina's debt burden is 'unpayable'

Cabinet chief says blame for the debt issue should be attributed to the previous government led by former president Mauricio Macri, who he accused of acting "irresponsibly" in taking on debt commitments.

Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero said Thursday that Argentina's debt is "unpayable" in its current form, as he told Congress the burden must be restructured.

Speaking less than 24 hours before the latest deadline for talks with creditors – which have regularly been rolled over – Cafiero said the blame for the debt issue should be attributed to the previous government led by former president Mauricio Macri, who he accused of acting "irresponsibly" in overloading Argentina's with debt commitments.

"The debt was contracted irresponsibly, it is unpayable and it is deeply unfair to put it on the back of Argentines," said President Alberto Fernández's Cabinet chief said from the Senate.

Cafiero's declarations came in response to a question from opposition Juntos por el Cambio lawmakers who sought information on the status of debt talks.

Reports this week have suggested that the talks with creditors have stalled and that the deadline will be extended yet again. One bondholder group this week branded talks "a failure" and hinted it was considering legal actoin.

The government is seeking to restructure more than US$65 billion in debt. Argentina entered default last month after skipping interest payments worth US$503-million on three bonds that form part of its debt swap proposal.

The Economy Ministry has said it will make another formal offer to creditors in negotiations, which were under a confidentiality agreement until Wednesday. 

Both parties are said to be some distance apart, though if bondholders express a willingness to keep talking, Friday's deadline will be extended, most likely for at least another seven days.

Cafiero told Congress Thursday that the government had made a huge effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Almost 36,000 infections have been recorded in Argentina, with 829 fatalities to date.

The Cabinet chief said that "tThe state also took over 50 percent of wages in the private sector, where 96 percent are small and medium-sized companies with less than 25 workers, among other measures."

– TIMES/AFP

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