Fernández: “I asked Georgieva for a political answer”

President reveals he spoke with IMF director ahead of reserve target revision

Alberto Fernández asked IMF general director Kristalina Georgieva for “a political answer” for Argentina in the context of the revision of the goals in the agreement signed with the multilateral credit institution, he told Ámbito Financiero. 

The president revealed that the conversation took place on Thursday night, a day and a half before Economy minister Sergio Massa’s Saturday announcement of an agreement with the Fund to soften Argentina’s net reserve targets.

“I spoke on the phone with Kristalina and explained to her how the war had cost Argentines US$5 billion. And that the drought would cost us another 15 billion. ‘Tell your technical staff that this [the goal revision] shouldn’t just be an Excel sheet. So, I am asking that your answer to us be a political answer,’” said the president, describing his conversation with the Bulgaria-born official.

Fernández’s comments provided context to the agreement announced by Massa after his own Saturday morning meeting with the general director during the G20 summit in India. The Argentine minister contacted Georgieva three times, after which he said that the revisions of the agreement regarding the accumulation of Central Bank reserves are no longer subject to monitoring every 30, 60 or 90 days, but rather will depend on a broader interpretation that will consider the effects of the war in Europe and the local climate situation. 

The President will try to get political gain from the softening of the Fund’s conditions amid the dispute over presidential candidacies within his coalition, Frente de Todos. Alberto tells his most trusted collaborators that hindsight will prove he was right to seek an understanding with the organization, despite internal criticism from people linked to Cristina de Kirchner, who even forced the firing of previous Economy minister Martín Guzmán, the main figure responsible for the deal. 

Even in private, the head of State defends Guzmán and usually pictures him as “a surgeon” for his apparent ability to execute cuts without hurting the social climate too much, although he also describes him as clumsy for his lack of political maneuvering. In fact, he compares his work to Massa’s, which he sees as a lot more explicit in his will to move forward with cuts despite their social impact, and also says he is “immensely grateful” to him for taking on the Economy ministry in the midst of a crisis that threatened to bring down the government.

Originally published in Ambito.com / Translated by Agustín Mango


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