IMF's Lipton: To continue support for Argentina's 'difficult situation'

Washington (AFP) –


As protesters jammed the streets of Buenos Aires on Tuesday, acting International Monetary Fund chief David Lipton said the fund will continue to support Argentina through the "challenging times" it faces, but he did not specify when the next injection of funds would be released.

Argentina has seen its currency value plummet as fears over the nation's political future have gripped investors. But Lipton said "recent measures by the authorities have helped calm the markets."

Lipton said he had "a constructive meeting" with President Mauricio Macri, Finance Minister Hernan Lacunza and Central Bank Governor Guido Sandleris in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

The IMF will "help them respond to the difficult situation and the challenging times ahead," he said in a statement

However, Macri's team continues to await the release of the pending $5.4 billion installment from the Washington-based crisis lender's record $57 billion loan.

"Our dialogue and close collaboration with the Argentine authorities will continue with technical meetings expected to take place later this week and before the IMF annual meetings" in October, Lipton said.

Buenos Aires has received about $44 billion so far of the three-year loan approved in June 2018 but soaring inflation and rising poverty stirred outrage at the government's belt-tightening measures.

With 33 days left until presidential elections, protests choked the streets of Buenos Aires as labor unions and leftist political parties demanded pay increases to compensate for soaring inflation.

The defeat of business-friendly Macri at the hands of populist challenger Alberto Fernandez in a primary election last month whipped up market volatility in the recession-hit nation.

To calm market turbulence, the government in late August asked the IMF to restructure its repayments.

Lacunza, who has been in his post just over a month, also announced initiatives to postpone debt payments to institutional investors, relieving the pressure on international reserves so they can be used to stabilize the currency which spiraled lower in the wake of the election.

However, Argentina has track record of economic crises, hyperinflation and debt default. And critics question whether the IMF should continue to lend to the country.