Argentina’s Vice President Says IMF Blocks Growth in Revolution Day Speech by Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner speaks on stage during a party rally inside the Diego Maradona stadium, in La Plata, outside Buenos Aires, Argentina November 17, 2022. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

By Lucinda Elliott and Eliana Raszewski

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner criticized the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday, saying a program agreed with the multilateral lender was holding back the country’s economy.

Fernandez de Kirchner, speaking at the commemoration of Revolution Day in Buenos Aires’ historic Plaza de Mayo, said the debt was impossible to repay.

The ruling coalition is trying to get aid from the IMF and to pay ahead of the October elections.

“If we don’t set aside the program … to make our plan for growth and development, it will not be possible to pay,” said the vice president, standing next to the Minister of Finance Sergio Massa, who is trying to save money. The $44 billion program is well underway.

He said the original agreement was “political” and that the IMF program does not allow the country to distribute resources.

“The dead don’t pay debts,” Kirchner said, quoting her late husband and former president, Nestor Kirchner, to the thousands who gathered despite heavy rain.

Nestor Kirchner said this when the President in 2005 announced that Argentina would pay its $9.8 billion debt to the IMF before the end of the year and avoid total default. Like his wife, he repeatedly accused the fund of bringing poverty and “poverty.”

The South American seed producer has a bad record with the IMF. The country agreed to a $57 billion program with a Washington-based organization in 2018 under the leadership of former conservative leader Mauricio Macri to address the economic crisis. That failed and was replaced last year with a deal to refinance $44 billion in outstanding debt.

Fernandez de Kirchner, 70, a left-wing veteran of the ruling Peronist party who served as president between 2007 and 2015, called the first deal “bad” and a “fraud” last week.

His speech comes as Massa and his team are negotiating with the IMF to bring the repayment of the loans agreed upon in 2022. A severe drought has affected the grain trade, the main source of dollars for Argentina, forcing both sides to negotiate in order to renew the agreement.

The government wants quick recovery and easy financial goals as it works to rebuild the reserves needed to support business investment and future debt repayments.

Massa is due to travel to China on May 29 to expand Argentina’s exchange rate with Beijing.

The ruling coalition faces a battle against the opposition in the Oct. 22, because voter dissatisfaction with rising inflation, stagnant wages and years of economic hardship are driving public support.

Kirchner insisted that he would not call again, as the current president, Alberto Fernandez, has done.

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