April 3, 2019 / 1:22 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 3-Argentina seeks IMF waiver over pending data for third review

(Adds more details from Treasury, background)

By Jorge Iorio

BUENOS AIRES, April 3 (Reuters) - Argentina has requested a waiver from the International Monetary Fund as some data would not be available in time for the fund’s third review this week of $56.3 billion in standby financing agreed last year, a Treasury spokesman said on Wednesday.

The matter was “simply a question of availability of certain data” that was expected to be submitted as the IMF meeting had been postponed from its original date at the end of March, a spokesman for the treasury told Reuters.

“Argentina asked the IMF to be exempt from submitting March fiscal data for the board’s review,” he said, adding an IMF staff team supported the approval of the waiver request.

“Such information cannot be released in time for the board meeting, which will be held on Friday, because the March fiscal result data will be published in mid-April.”

Argentina’s financing deal with the IMF, the fund’s largest ever, is being closely watched by global investors as the country’s leaders grapple to rein in stubborn inflation, protect a tumbling currency and revive the recession-hit economy.

The deal was struck last year when the country’s peso lost half its value against the dollar and inflation came close to 50 percent. President Mauricio Macri, facing elections later this year, said the country had been hit by “endless storms.”

Argentina and the IMF reached a staff-level agreement in March regarding the review, paving the way for the fund to disburse a tranche of funds worth about $10.9 billion. That agreement needs approval from the IMF executive board.

The treasury spokesman said the fiscal targets for the year remained unchanged. Argentina has agreed to erase its primary fiscal deficit this year as part of the IMF deal.

An IMF spokeswoman said the waiver request was because some data for March was not available, and that a similar issue had occurred with the first review.

“Preliminary data indicates that targets will be met. However, final data won’t be available by the time the board comes together, which is why the waiver is requested in this case,” she said.

The IMF board is due to discuss the review of Argentina’s standby agreement on Friday.

Reporting by Jorge Iorio; Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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