Argentina proposes $69 billion debt restructure plan

A man walks by posters portraying the International Monetary Fund as vultures in Buenos Aires

Argentina has finalised a proposal to restructure some $69 billion of the country’s massive public debt, the government said Tuesday, hoping to delay the maturity of some institutional loans and reduce the amount owed to private creditors.

Since taking office in December, President Alberto Fernandez’s administration has insisted it will not be able to pay off its creditors if its recession-hit economy fails to resume growth.

The country is struggling with inflation of more than 50 percent, a major currency depreciation and a poverty level that has soared almost to almost half the population after nearly two years of economic downturn.

In 2001 Argentina defaulted on payments on nearly US$100 billion of its external debt, but has since paid some back in the form of large swaps.

Now the government wants to delay the maturity on some loans and work with private creditors to reduce overall debt.

Last week the government said it had recruited HSBC, Lazard and Bank of America to help with the restructuring.

Argentina currently owes $311 billion — more than 90 percent of the country’s GDP — with more than $30 billion in repayments due before the end of March.

That includes a deeply unpopular $57 billion bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund negotiated by Fernandez’s center-right predecessor Mauricio Macri in 2018.

Last month the IMF said Argentina’s debt was “not sustainable” and urged the government to generate funds from private investors.

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