IMF reaches agreement with Argentina that will release USD5.4B loan tranche

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday reached an agreement with Argentina that will allow release of the next USD5.4 billion disbursement under the loan programme intended to help stabilise the South American nation’s economy.

The IMF board must approve the fourth review of the country’s performance under the loan deal signed last year before Buenos Aires will have access to the additional funds.

The board meeting is set for July 12.

“Argentina’s economic policies are yielding results,” acting IMF Chief David Lipton said in a statement, noting that the government achieved all the targets agreed with the fund including on budget policy and social spending.

“I fully support Argentina’s efforts to bolster confidence, lay the foundation for sustainable growth and protect the most vulnerable.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo. – AFP

While inflation remains high it “is expected to continue to fall in the coming months,” Lipton said. “There are also signs that the economy is improving in the second quarter.”

President Mauricio Macri has faced increasing pressure over the misfiring economy with presidential elections set for October.

He was forced to impose austerity measures as authorities struggled to stabilise the currency and rein in inflation to ensure access to IMF funding.

Consumer inflation hit 3.1 per cent in May and has risen more than 19 per cent so far this year, while unemployment closed last year just over nine percent and the poverty rate rose to 32 per cent.

Argentina originally secured a USD50 billion financing package from the IMF in June 2018, before returning to the fund to ask for an additional USD6 billion and accelerated disbursements in exchange for tougher conditions.

Christine Lagarde, the recently departed IMF chief, admitted last month that the crisis-lender had “underestimated” the severity of Argentina’s “incredibly complicated” economic challenge.