Argentina’s Guzman says seeking payment pause with IMF until 2024 – report

FILE PHOTO: Argentina's Economy Minister Martin Guzman waves before attending a news conference to give details about the agreement to restructure Argentina's debt, at the Casa Rosada Presidential Palace, in Buenos Aires
FILE PHOTO: Argentina's Economy Minister Martin Guzman waves before attending a news conference to give details about the agreement with major private creditors to restructure Argentina's sovereign debt, in Buenos Aires, Argentina August 31, 2020. Juan Mabromata/Pool via REUTERS

September 13, 2020

By Eliana Raszewski

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina is seeking to avoid repayments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the period 2021-2024 as it negotiates a new deal with the lender, Economy Minister Martin Guzman told local newspaper La Nacion in a report published on Sunday.

The country, which is heading into its third year of recession, last month initiated talks with the fund over a deal to replace a failed 2018 agreement that has already seen around $44 billion disbursed.

“The objective is very clear: first, we do not want to face payments with the Fund in the period 2021-2024,” said Guzman, who this month sealed restructurings of over $100 billion of Argentina’s foreign currency debt with private creditors.

“We have to have a clear horizon in terms of financial burden in the coming years and we are going towards that point. That will require negotiations that will take a while.”

Argentina currently faces the bulk of its repayments on its current stand-by arrangement with the IMF in 2022-2023, when almost $40 billion needs to be stumped up. The Fund has said it wants to work constructively with the country.

President Alberto Fernandez’s center-left government will send its 2021 budget bill to Congress next week, with a forecast primary fiscal deficit of 4.5% of GDP, which will be financed in part with transfers from the central bank.

“We hope that financing from the central bank will decrease, although it will not be possible to do without it completely for a while,” Guzman said.

“That is why we are seeking to normalize public finances, gradually reduce financing needs from the central bank, and gradually lower inflation, which is a key objective.”

(Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Frances Kerry)