Updated January 5th, 2024 at 21:52 IST

Argentina taps central bank reserves with $3.2 bn debt sale

Argentina's administration is struggling against country's worst economic crises in two decades.

Reported by: Business Desk
Argentina | Image:Unsplash
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The financially ailing government in Argentina will raise $3.2 billion in hard currency for meeting debt repayments via an issuance of 10-year bills to the central bank, according to a decree in the official gazette on Friday. The new administration of libertarian president Javier Milei is struggling against the country's worst economic crises in two decades, including inflation racing towards 200 per cent, a lack of foreign currency reserves and rising poverty.

The government faces looming debt payments with creditors, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with which it is looking to hammer out an agreement and release funds as part of a delayed review of the South American country's $44 billion IMF program. Argentina's government is set to meet a delegation from the IMF on Friday and over the weekend, which could eventually unlock some $3 billion. However, the debt raising suggests it needs a quicker injection of funds, despite campaign pledges by Milei to curtail central bank financing of the Treasury. 

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"Governments change, non-transferable bills stay the same. There is no magic bullet, no panacea," said local economist Gabriel Caamaño, adding that it remained unclear when the seventh IMF program review would be unblocked. "Because of this we have to keep damaging the central bank's balance sheet to avoid default."

Presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni said in a daily press conference that the debt issuance aimed to allow the government "to meet maturities with private creditors," but added that the move would not damage the central bank's position. While the central bank has built up gross foreign currency reserves since Milei took office in December, analysts estimate that net reserves remain some $8 billion in negative territory.

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The major grains producing nation, which has struggled with cyclical economic crises for years, recently paid some $920 million to the IMF and faces an upcoming capital payment to the fund for about $1.95 billion in mid-January. 

(With Reuters inputs) 

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Published January 5th, 2024 at 21:52 IST