Despite financial turmoil, Massa says he won’t resign as Economy Minister

“When I face a storm and take the helm, I don’t let go”

Sergio Massa, Argentina´s Economy minister. Credit: Télam

Unión por la Patria (UxP) presidential candidate Sergio Massa said he won’t resign as Economy Minister during the campaign and will work to solve Argentina’s financial crisis, which skyrocketed after La Libertad Avanza’s Javier Milei‘s surprising win in Sunday’s primaries.

“Some are asking whether it’s convenient for me to remain a minister while also being a candidate during this storm,” Massa said during an interview with Todo Noticias (TN) TV station on Wednesday night. “When I face a storm and take the helm, I don’t let go.”

The primary election’s results had an immediate effect on inflation and national finances. The Central Bank announced a 22% currency devaluation on Monday, bringing the official dollar exchange rate to AR$350, a figure the Central Bank committed to maintaining until October. Eight consultant agencies have projected the August inflation rate will be between 10% and 15%.

Massa confirmed he will remain as Economy Minister until December 10, the day in which Argentina’s new president will be inaugurated. He said his potential resignation “would greatly harm the stability of Argentina’s economy.”

However, he said that “there is no room for the ‘Massa candidate’ in the next 10 days,” because “‘minister Massa’ has to deal with these issues.”

“I am not the president, only a presidential candidate. I am the Economy Minister because I stepped in when the storm started.”

Massa also recalled how he became Economy Minister, despite saying he was “very comfortable” in his position as head of Chamber of Deputies, a position he held for two and a half years, starting in 2019. “When the crisis came upon us, a minister fled, leaving an unresolved agreement with the International Monetary Fund […] I didn’t flee from my responsibilities and my homeland’s calling,” he said, referencing the exit of former Economy Minister, Martín Guzmán. 

Guzmán unexpectedly resigned July 2, 2022, in the middle of financial turmoil and harsh criticism from the government’s Kirchnerist faction. He had been one of President Alberto Fernández’s strongest allies since the beginning of his term in December 2019, but was strongly resisted by Kirchnerists due to the renegotiation agreement he reached with the IMF.

The government and the IMF signed an Extended Fund Facility agreement in 2022 after renegotiating the US$44 billion debt former President Mauricio Macri acquired in 2018. The deal includes an economic program that Argentina must comply with in order to receive disbursements every three months, which are used to pay for the previous debt with the IMF.

Silvina Batakis took Guzmán’s post after his resignation, but was dismissed after a month. Fernández’s government decided Massa should take the wheel of the Economy Ministry, or the helm, as he put it.

“Aside from the difficulty of the original deal, we have an ongoing renegotiation [with the IMF] and a minister that fled, causing a crisis that led to me leaving the Chamber of Deputies and taking charge in the middle of the storm,” Massa said.

You may also be interested in: Sergio Massa: the ‘unity’ candidate facing a perfect storm


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