The board of the International Monetary Fund today approved a USD 50 billion aid package intended to help Argentina confront inflation, budget deficits and a weakening currency. The fund’s executive board approved the agreement struck by IMF staff earlier this month. Argentina plans to draw on the first USD 15 billion tranche of the aid program, of which half will be used for budget support while treating the remaining USD 35 billion as “precautionary,” according to the IMF.
Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, has heaped praise on Argentina’s plans for economic reform but insisted the decisions were made in Buenos Aires and not handed down from the Washington-based fund. Vocal street protests and threatened labour strikes have greeted Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s decision to seek IMF financing.
The country has a bitter history with the global crisis lender, which many Argentines view as having imposed tough conditions that worsened economic pain 17 years ago. The fund said today that the so-called stand-by arrangement would back efforts by Buenos Aires to put public debts on a sustainable path, reduce the need for financing and tackle inflation while strengthening the central bank’s independence.
“Importantly, the plan includes steps to protect society’s most vulnerable by maintaining social spending and, if social conditions were to deteriorate, by providing room for greater spending on Argentina’s social safety net,” the statement said.