August 26, 2019 / 11:12 PM / 24 days ago

IMF meets with Argentina opposition candidate

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - A team from the International Monetary Fund met on Monday with opposition candidate Alberto Fernandez, the front-runner for October’s presidential election, according to a spokesman for Fernandez.

FILE PHOTO: Presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez reacts as he casts a vote at a polling station during the primary elections, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

A three-man IMF team sat down with three representatives from Fernandez’s center-left “Frente de Todos” coalition as well as the candidate himself, according to a statement from Fernandez´s office.

Fernandez, a critic of Argentina’s $57 billion IMF standby agreement negotiated in 2018 by pro-reform President Mauricio Macri, has pledged to “rework” the program if elected, with his advisers telling Treasury Minister Hernan Lacunza last week he would seek an “alternative economic model” to the current administration’s policies.

The statement said Frente de Todos shared none of the policy priorities of the current government, nor agreed with the recommendations of the IMF.

“The loan received by the country and the raft of conditions associated with it has not generated any of the hoped-for results: The economy has not stopped constricting, employment and the situation for enterprises and families has continued to get worse, inflation has not shown any sustained reduction, and public debt has only grown,” said a statement from Fernandez´s office.

“During the meeting, (Fernandez) reiterated his concern that the credit extended by the IMF to the national government has been used, in large part, to finance capital outflows.

“Those who have generated this crisis, the government and the IMF, have the responsibility of putting an end to and reversing it.”

A statement from the IMF on Monday night confirmed the meeting with Fernandez and his team and said it was “a productive exchange of opinions.”

On Saturday, IMF officials met with Lacunza, who was appointed last week, and central bank President Guido Sandleris.

The IMF said in its statement that meetings with Argentine government had been “constructive.”

Fernandez’s landslide victory in an Aug. 11 primary vote prompted the peso currency to fall by nearly 18% amid fears of a return to the interventionist economic policies of former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who is Fernandez’s vice presidential candidate.

The volatility calmed last week as both camps sought to reassure Argentines they were united in stabilizing the economy. The peso opened 0.29% weaker on Monday at 55.35 per U.S. dollar, traders said.

The Fund’s next scheduled review of Argentina’s lending program is on Sept. 15.

Reporting by Nicolas Misculin, Cassandra Garrison and Jorge Otola; additional reporting by Walter Bianchi; Editing by Daniel Flynn, Dan Grebler and Cynthia Osterman

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