UPDATE 1-Argentina makes $1.9 bln payment to IMF amid race for new deal

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BUENOS AIRES, Sept. 22 (Reuters) – Argentina paid nearly $ 1.9 billion to the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday, two government sources said as the South American grain producer races to negotiate a new deal with the lender to renew more than $ 40 billion. dollars still owed.

The payment, part of a failed 2018 loan deal, was made with funds received from Argentina from the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) program, distributed in August to help members tackle the economic impact of the pandemic. of the coronavirus.

“Today, the maturity payment ended with the IMF, which will be reflected in international reserves,” said a source from the central bank, who added that reserve levels are about $ 43.178 billion.

The country’s official Telam news agency has confirmed that SDR funds will be used to facilitate the payment of $ 1.885 billion. Argentina has received the equivalent of 4.334 billion dollars in SDRs, a reserve asset of the IMF, official sources told Reuters.

Argentina then owed the IMF $ 400 million in interest in November and about $ 1.9 billion in principal in December, according to a schedule of its debt obligations.

The South American country is in the midst of negotiations with the IMF to restructure its debt amid rising inflation, political uncertainty, capital controls, high levels of poverty and the economic turmoil that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Paying to the IMF is a matter of responsibility. The way forward is to build an agreement that says what is good for Argentina, “Economy Minister Martin Guzman said in a statement on radio on Wednesday.

The government, which was rocked by a painful loss in primary elections earlier this month, sent its draft budget for 2022 to Congress last week, which it said was based on the assumption of a new deal with the IMF.

Report by Jorge Jorio; Screenwriters by Walter Bianchi and Dave Sherwood; Edited by Mark Porter and Diane Kraft