Argentina's government sends debt bill to Congress to solve crisis

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina’s new government is seeking to push through legislation to help solve a mounting debt crisis as the country struggles to make repayments to global creditors.

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Economy Minister Martin Guzman said a “debt sustainability” bill sent to Congress on Tuesday afternoon was aimed at creating a legal framework to improve debt terms, interest charges and amounts of capital.

“This bill, this law will give us the conditions to be able to structure and execute the operations needed to achieve the aim of restoring the sustainability of public debt,” he said at a press conference in Buenos Aires.

“Today we have an unsustainable debt burden that mortgages the futures of all Argentines.”

Guzman was tapped by center-left President Alberto Fernandez, who took office just last month, to revive the economy and lead debt talks. He said Argentina was asking bondholders to willingly help restructure public debt in an orderly way through a “comprehensive macroeconomic program.”

Argentina faces negotiations with creditors including the International Monetary Fund to restructure about $100 billion in sovereign debt, which Fernandez has said the country cannot afford to pay until it revives its stalled economy.

Guzman echoed the sentiment saying the country, Latin America’s third-largest economy, was willing to pay its debts but needed some relief from creditors to be able to do so.

“We are asking that they give us the necessary time to solve a problem of macroeconomic collapse that has affected all the country,” he said.

The young economy minister, an acolyte of frequent IMF critic Joseph Stiglitz, said talks with the fund were continuing in a “constructive way” and that negotiations would continue on how to restructure payments.

Guzman said most peso debt had been refinanced. The state will look to keep paying interest on its dollar debt via reserves, though it is not making capital payments, he added.

“We want to make promises that can be fulfilled. Make commitments that are feasible to honor,” he said.

Argentine sovereign debt dipped on Tuesday, with the benchmark January 2028 040114HQ6= down a point and the December 2038 040114GK0= down just under two points. Buenos Aires provincial debt held firmer with the January 2021 AR058449334= unchanged.

Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Maximilian Heath, additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos in New Yorl, writing by Cassandra Garrison and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Tom Brown, Richard Pullin