IMF approves latest Argentine bailout disbursement

Washington (AFP) –


The International Monetary Fund's executive board approved Wednesday the release of a $7.6 billion installment on the $56 billion bailout loan agreed with crisis-hit Argentina.

The disbursement is part of a financial package aimed at propping up the Argentine economy, which on Tuesday entered recession after shrinking for the second successive quarter on the back of a currency meltdown that has seen the peso lose half its value against the dollar in 2018.

With ratification of the latest IMF funding, Argentina has now received more than $28 billion from the global financial body as President Mauricio Macri implements tough austerity demands.

"There are early signs that the redesigned economic reform program, including a new monetary policy framework, is yielding results," IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton said in a statement.

"The peso has stabilized and inflation, though still high, has started to decline, as the pass-through from past peso depreciation is waning."

Argentina originally secured in June a $50 billion bailout package before returning to the IMF with its begging bowl in October, when it was granted an extra $6 billion and accelerated disbursements.

"Nevertheless, the Argentine economy is still contracting and remains vulnerable to shifts in market sentiment," added Lipton.

"Economic activity is expected to start recovering in the second quarter of 2019."

It is welcome news for Argentina and the embattled Macri, particularly after Tuesday's announcement by the state statistics bureau that the economy had shrunk 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2018, following a 4.0 percent drop in the second quarter.

It also said gross domestic product was down 1.4 percent from January to September compared with 2017.

The IMF predicts that Argentina's economy will shrink by 2.6 percent this year and another 1.6 percent in 2019.