By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The IMF’s managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, said on Wednesday she discussed the implementation of a $44 billion International Monetary Fund program with Argentina’s new economy chief, Silvina Batakis.
“Very good call with Minister (Batakis) today to discuss implementation of Argentina’s program,” Georgieva wrote on Twitter. “Looking forward to continuing our constructive engagement to promote economic stability and inclusive growth in (Argentina) in a very challenging global environment.”
Batakis, sworn-in late on Monday, had already spoken with the head of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere department and committed to support the objectives of the IMF program, which her predecessor Martin Guzman negotiated to replace a failed 2018 loan.
Guzman’s abrupt departure on Saturday sparked concerns of a shift toward populist policies and state spending in Argentina, which is grappling with sky-high inflation, while raising concerns that the new government would seek to change the terms of the IMF deal.
“The world is really changing very rapidly, but she did commit to the objectives of the program and she did commit to work with the fund constructively to achieve these objectives,” Georgieva told Reuters earlier on Wednesday.
She said Argentina faces a “very complex, very difficult time,” and the IMF would do what it could to help Argentine authorities deal with surging inflation.
“The minister … understands the purpose of fiscal discipline and also understands that if you want to help the poor it cannot be in conditions of galloping inflation,” Georgieva said.
Asked if Batakis would push for changes to the IMF program approved by the Fund’s board in late March, Georgieva said Guzman also had different views than the IMF on occasion and said it was important to reach consensus by exploring different options.Argentina’s dollar bonds hit record low prices on Wednesday, partly on the uncertain economic policy outlook and also pressured by global inflation and recession concerns.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal in Washington, additional reporting by Rodigo Campos in New YorkEditing by Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis)