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IMF not saying when Argentina could get last disbursement

September 26, 2019 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund refused to say Thursday when it will disburse the last $5.4 billion of a massive loan to Argentina that was originally planned for mid-September.

IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice said at a news conference that he didn’t “have specific information on timing.”

Reporters had asked him whether the organization will wait for the winner of the October presidential elections to take office on December 10 before releasing the funds.

The Fund says there is no real delay because the loan program doesn’t spell out a hard deadline.

Talks about the overall $57 billion loan will continue when Argentine authorities attend the Fund’s fall meeting next month in Washington.

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“We will move in the discussions as fast as we can, trying to do the best we can for Argentina in every respect,” Rice said.

The Bulgarian economist Kristalina Georgieva, who will take over on Oct, 1 as the new leader of the IMF, held her first bilateral meeting at the organization headquarters with Argentine Treasury Minister Hernán Lacunza on Wednesday.

And Deputy IMF Managing Director David Lipton met Argentine President Mauricio Macri on Tuesday in New York.

Rice mentioned both meetings to say that “it is incorrect to say the IMF has in some way put the relationship with Argentina on hold.”

Lipton, who has been leading the IMF on an acting basis, said in an interview Wednesday with Bloomberg Radio that the fund’s Argentina program will likely be on hold for some time as the country deals with severe political and economic uncertainty.

Argentina’s stocks and currency have plummeted since left-leaning Alberto Fernández won a 15-point lead over Macri in August primaries.

Lacunza has imposed restrictions on access to dollars as a response to a rapid loss of foreign reserves and an accelerating devaluation of the peso.

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Luis Alonso Lugo on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/luisalonsolugo