BUENOS AIRES – An International Monetary Fund mission to Argentina, the first in a decade, said Thursday that the nation’s small and medium enterprises need a better system for accessing credit, a business federation said after meeting with the delegation in Buenos Aires.
“They talked about the need for a better credit system for SMEs because they believe the economy can’t function under the current one,” Osvaldo Cornide, head of the Argentine Confederation of Medium Enterprises, or Came, said after the meeting.
The head of the IMF delegation, Roberto Cardarelli, told reporters he spoke with Came leaders about different issues such as inflation, the exchange rate and structural economic reforms carried out by President Mauricio Macri’s administration in recent months.
The IMF delegation’s two-week visit to Argentina marks its first annual review of Argentina’s economic health since 2006, when the administration of then-President Nestor Kirchner suspended those audits due to tensions with the multilateral lender.
The visit will end Thursday with a meeting between the IMF delegation and Argentine Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay, after which the lender will issue a preliminary report on its findings.
A final report with conclusions on the evolution of Argentina’s economy based on talks with representatives of the government and the private sector, including institutions such as Cane, will be issued in November.
“The IMF is an instrument, like a violin: it can play a wedding march or a requiem,” Cornide said, adding that he hopes Macri’s government will reach beneficial agreements with that financial institution that avoid a repeat of past situations in which relations with the Fund meant “austerity and more austerity.”
Many in Argentina blame the IMF in part for Argentina’s economic collapse early last decade, while the lender’s internal audit unit found in 2004 that the Fund had supported “inadequate policies” that in late 2001 led to a massive default and the worst crisis in the country’s recent history.
Cornide said he communicated to Cardarelli his confederation’s satisfaction with some of Macri’s reforms, including the lifting of currency controls, but also its disagreement with decisions such as the slashing of subsidies that had kept utility prices low.
“The sector was bad off and now things are worse,” Cornide said, adding that consumer spending had fallen over the past month by 7 percent.
“We depend on people having money (to spend) and people have less money,” Cornide said.