IMF releases $5.4 bn loan tranche to Argentina


BUENOS AIRES: The International Monetary Fund completed a review Friday of Argentina’s economic performance, allowing the release of $5.4 billion to the country in a loan program intended to help stabilise its economy.

The IMF board approved the fourth review of the South American country’s performance under the loan deal signed last year.

“The Argentine authorities continue to show a strong commitment to their economic policy program, meeting all applicable targets under the Fund-supported program,” said IMF Managing Director David Lipton in a statement, noting that financial markets have stabilized.

Lipton also said that inflation, while still high, had decreased and appeared to be on an overall downward path.

“The economy is beginning a gradual recovery from last year’s recession,” he said.

Despite the IMF’s confidence, American credit rating agency Moody’s changed Argentina’s outlook on Friday from stable to negative.

Moody’s based its decision on “increased uncertainty” that Argentina would continue to implement policies that would stabilize its economy and its currency, it said in a statement.

President Mauricio Macri has faced increasing pressure over the misfiring economy with presidential elections set for October.

He was forced to impose austerity measures as authorities struggled to stabilize the currency and rein in inflation to ensure access to IMF funding.

Consumer inflation hit 3.1 percent in May and has risen more than 19 percent so far this year, while unemployment closed last year just over nine percent and the poverty rate rose to 32 percent.

Argentina originally secured a $50 billion financing package from the IMF in June 2018, before returning to the fund to ask for an additional $6 billion and accelerated disbursements in exchange for tougher conditions.