April 24, 2010 / 4:42 PM / 10 years ago

Argentina says it better off without IMF advice

WASHINGTON, April 24 (Reuters) - Argentina said on Saturday it was better off free from the shackles of the International Monetary Fund, which it blames for contributing to its $100 billion debt default nearly a decade ago.

In a statement to the IMF’s steering committee, Argentina said “we can proudly celebrate that we have cemented our economic independence as never before in our recent history.”

The South American country has a fraught relationship with the IMF, stemming from what it sees as the Fund’s mismanagement of its 2001-2002 debt crisis.

Argentina is now trying to restructure more than $6 billion in defaulted debt with creditor nations, and the IMF said on Thursday it hoped to schedule a long-delayed economic review. [ID:nN22135552]

Argentina said it had learned “harsh lessons” from its earlier crisis and its economy was faring better because it was not obliged to follow IMF guidance.

The IMF conducts general Article IV reviews with all of its 186 member countries as part of its monitoring of the global economy, but loan programmes come with strict conditions attached.

“If we had followed the recommendations traditionally made by (the IMF) — which have favored opening our economies, foreign indebtedness, financial liberalization and ‘unbeatable’ market-oriented reforms — the outcome would have been totally different and today we would have been embroiled in a fresh economic, social and political crisis,” the statement said.

“Therefore, we celebrate today our well-gained economic independence.”

The country also said it expects 2010 economic growth in the range of 3.5 percent to 5 percent, “tilted to the upside.”

The IMF’s own forecast is for growth of 3.5 percent, and it pointed out in its World Economic Outlook that private analysts think Argentina’s growth has been lower than the official reports since the last quarter of 2008. (Reporting by Emily Kaiser; editing by Patrick Graham)

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