Before the departure of the IMF mission that visited the country in the last two weeks, the Minister of Economy, Martin Guzman, made an “out of the box” move: he met in the Palacio de Hacienda the members of the technical body of the international organization with the “most political” group among the representatives of the country’s business leadership leadership: the Argentine Businessmen Association ( AEA). With Paolo Rocca At the head, “the political leadership of the economic power” (as defined by Alfredo Zaiat) had to present his own vision of the situation and the solutions that he posed before the Fund’s representation and the Minister of Economy, at the initiative of the latter.
Although there was no official information, it transpired that the meeting took place this Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the Belgrano Room of the Palacio de Hacienda, it lasted for almost two hours and that it was proposed and called by Guzman with minimal anticipation, less than 24 hours. The intention expressed by the promoter and organizer of the meeting was that the IMF technicians knew from the mouth of the leadership their proposals about the alternatives that are presented to Argentina to get out of the current crisis, committing them to contribute to a solution.
Guzmán was accompanied by Sergio Chodos, executive director for the IMF’s Southern Cone. In front of the three members of the IMF mission (Julie Kosack, Luis Cubbedu and Trevor Alleyne), sat Paolo Rocca (Techint), Jaime Campos, Guadalupe Mazulo (head and director of institutional relations of AEA), Enrique Cristofani (Banco Santander ), Federico Braun (La Anónima) and Alberto Grimoldi (eponymous signature). Pagani (Arcor), Magnetto (Clarín), Galperin (Mercado Libre) and other important references of the Association of Argentine Entrepreneurs were not present, which surely justified their absence in the urgency of the call.
In his introduction, Guzmán highlighted the values of dialogue, the need to build consensus on pillars for economic stability and predictability. He pointed out that Argentine society today has an enormous responsibility to create its own future and solve its problems, since the rest of the world can cooperate but not replace the answers that must arise internally.
Then he reiterated the position of the Argentine government before the IMF, demanding a new program of extended facilities that allows renegotiating the payment of the debt for more than 44 billion dollars, with a grace period of four and a half years to start paying it.
In its statement closing the visit, the IMF mission made no mention of this meeting. But he reported that the delegation “welcomed the intention of the Argentine authorities to request an Extended Facilities program as well as their intention to support it with a broad political and social consensus.”
”There is a shared vision between the team and the authorities that addressing Argentina’s short- and medium-term challenges will require a carefully calibrated set of policies to promote stability, restore trust, protect the most vulnerable, and lay the foundations for sustainable and inclusive growth, “the mission said in its statement, informing that the negotiations will continue remotely over the next few weeks.
Returning to the meeting on Friday, the business leadership had to express on the occasion their expectations regarding the Argentine economy, explain why they reject the Solidarity Contribution that already has half approval from Congress, their views on the “tax pressure” and instability exchange rate, and the conditions they seek for private investment. It will not have been the first time that these businessmen have contact with officials of the international organization, but it is surely the first time that they must do so before the Minister of Economy in an official sphere and on his initiative.
When speaking of the need for “a broad agreement” between different social and economic sectors to overcome the crisis, the question of the “consistency” of the proposals is often overlooked. An issue that Guzmán tends to bring to the fore in his discussions, before with private creditors and now with the IMF: he does not accept payment agreements or commitments that are not consistent with Argentina’s objectives of economic and social recovery, inclusion and development. .
Are the proposals of the top leadership of economic power in Argentina consistent with any of these conditions? Meetings like this Friday at the Palacio de Hacienda, perhaps contribute to recognizing, even in front of the IMF itself, what are the possible agreements and with whom.