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Argentine Senate passes debt-restructuring bill

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Buenos Aires (AFP)

Argentina's Senate passed a bill on Wednesday granting the government wide powers in restructuring the country's colossal debt.

The Senate voted unanimously on the measure -- already approved by the lower house -- which allows the executive to restructure bonds issued in foreign currency.

Congress "sent a clear signal" of Argentina's willingness to pay, said Daniel Lovera, a senator from the center-left majority.

Reducing the debt burden has been a priority for Argentina's new President, Alberto Fernandez, who hopes to reach an agreement with private creditors and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) before March 31.

Having inherited an economic crisis that began 18 months ago with a currency collapse, Fernandez is aiming to renegotiate repayments of billions borrowed from the IMF.

The sum is a sizeable part of Argentina's $335 billion external debt, which amounts to over 90 percent of its GDP while the country is also tackling widespread poverty.

As well as debt and poverty woes, Argentina is battling one of the world's highest rates of inflation, topping 53 percent last year.

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