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ECONOMY | 08-02-2022 22:01

Left-wing demonstrators march to condemn Argentina's deal with IMF

Left-wing demonstrators rally in Buenos Aires and call on the government to reject any deal with the International Monetary Fund.

Several thousand left-wing demonstrators marched in Buenos Aires on Tuesday to denounce the government's provisional agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and demand President Alberto Fernández call off the deal to resolve a US$44-billion debt.

Gathering under the slogan "No to the pact with the IMF. no to the payment of the foreign debt," around 200 different groups and organisations joined forces to rally and march to the Plaza de Mayo, in front of the Casa Rosada, the seat of government. Protesters demanded that talks with the multilateral lender be called off immediately and that funds be re-directed to the nation's poorest.

Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores (Workers Leftist Front, FIT) national lawmaker Myriam Bregman, representing the City told the AFP news agency that the government's Frente de Todos coalition should "remember Argentine history."

"All the agreements with the IMF since 1983 have brought chaos, ended in [structural] adjustments, hyperinflation and huge social crises," she declared.

The government "must prove why it would be different" this time, she added.

On January 28, President Alberto Fernández announced a new repayment deal with the International Monetary Fund of a US$44-billion loan granted in 2018 to the government of his predecessor, Mauricio Macri. Originally the debt was US$57 billion, but Fernández refused the remaining US$13 billion upon taking office.

Under the new deal, Argentina has committed to progressively reducing its fiscal deficit from three percent in 2021 to just 0.9 percent in 2024. According to the government, the agreement will not affect social spending or economic growth. 

FIT leader and ex-City lawmaker Vilma Ripoll told AFP that "growing to pay should be called growing to hand over natural resources. It has nothing to do with the needs of the Argentine people, but with an illegitimate and unpayable debt."

The agreement still has to be ratified by Congress, where the ruling coalition has the largest group, but does not have a majority. 

FIT was the third-largest force in November 2021 legislative elections, scoring around 1.5 million votes (six percent), but it only has four of 257 national deputies, limiting its impact in Congress.

The government hopes to define the terms of the new financing programme before the March 22 maturity of a US$2.85-billion payment that the country can no longer afford, according to Economy Minister Martín Guzmán.

After three years of recession, the last two of which were linked to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Argentina's economy saw a strong rebound in 2021, with 10.3 percent growth for the first 11 months of the year.

But inflation remains very high. In 2021 it was around 50.9 percent, while it is forecast to be 33 percent in 2022. Poverty also remains high, affecting 40 percent of the population.

 

– TIMES/AFP

 

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