IMF: It would be foolish to abandon program in Argentina
WASHINGTON (AP) - Managing Director Christine Lagarde said it "would be foolish" to abandon the $56 billion program because it puts a priority on protections for the poor.
President Mauricio Macri will be seeking re-election, but he's seen his popularity ratings plunge amid economic difficulties. Former center-left President Cristina Fernández is tied with him in most polls even though she faces numerous investigations into alleged corruption during her 2007-2015 administration.
Following last year's devaluation of the peso, Argentina was forced to seek a record financing deal with the IMF, a move that brought back bad memories for Argentines who blame the Fund for introducing policies that led to the country's worst crisis in 2001, when one in every five Argentines went unemployed and millions slid into poverty.
Fernández has been critical of the Macri administration for seeking help from the Fund.
During a news conference to open the spring meetings of the IMF and its sister lending organization, the World Bank, Lagarde said the IMF program is beginning to show results and the Argentine economy will soon enter a recovery phase.
The Fund projected this week that Argentina's gross domestic product will grow 2.2% in 2020 after contracting 1.2% this year and 2.5% in 2018.
Argentine lawmakers in November approved an austerity budget for 2019 that aims to cut the primary deficit before debt payments to zero, down from 2.6% of GDP in 2018.