The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is "committed" to reaching an agreement with Argentina to reschedule its US$44-billion debt, the multilateral lender’s spokesperson Gerry Rice said Thursday.
Facing the press for a briefing as a political crisis raged inside Argentina’s government, Rice refused to comment on the news that five Cabinet ministers and other officials had offered their resignations, following the ruling coalition’s heavy defeat in last Sunday’s PASO primaries.
“We do not comment on political developments or speculation about it," the spokesperson told journalists. "But what I can tell you is that we continue working with the Argentine authorities to deepen the technical discussions that we are having towards a programme supported by the IMF. Our objective continues to be to help Argentina (...) we are committed to that."
The spokesperson would not offer a timetable for an eventual agreement, nor would he comment on the draft budget bill sent to Congress at midnight Wednesday by Economy Minister Martín Guzmán, which excluded pending repayments to the Fund.
"It would be premature to comment on the draft 2022 budget," said Rice. "We don't want to get ahead of the technical discussions that are taking place at this stage."
He added: "We are working closely, deepening our technical understanding on a wide range of issues that could form the basis of a possible IMF programme, so I will not go into details."
Under the terms of the original stand-by agreement signed with the Mauricio Macri administration in 2018, which was originally worth US$57 billion, Argentina is due to make two separate repayments of US$1.9 billion to the Fund later this month and in December.
Rice was also quizzed on Argentina’s push for reform of the IMF’s policy of surcharges on loans, saying that IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva had promised to discuss the issue with the organisation’s management and members.
"The managing director took note of this request and is moving this process forward," he said, clarifying that the issue "will probably" be discussed soon in informal board meetings, in order to have "preliminary views" before a wider formal debate.
Rice said in July that talks with Argentina were moving toward an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme, which seeks to assist countries with serious balance of payments problems in the medium term due to structural deficiencies that cannot be resolved in a short time.