Argentina’s Massa expects IMF board OK for $7.5 billion payout

By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Argentine Economy Minister Sergio Massa said on Tuesday that he expects the International Monetary Fund (IMF) board to approve the latest reviews of its huge loan program on Wednesday, unlocking $7.5 billion the embattled country desperately needs.

The board green light would come after the South American nation reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF in July to unlock the funds and complete the combined fifth and sixth reviews of its struggling $44 billion loan program.

“We are convinced that tomorrow the fifth and sixth reviews will be approved, which will allow us to access a disbursement for Argentina of $7.5 billion,” he told reporters at an event in Washington.

The IMF did not respond to a request for comment on Massa’s statement.

Argentina, a major grains exporter with large troves of lithium, shale oil and gas, is battling triple-digit inflation, rising poverty levels, and net foreign currency reserves that have slid into negative territory, putting payments at risk.

Massa added that a sharp peso devaluation in Argentina earlier this month would push up August inflation, a challenge for the government as it looks to claw back support ahead of Oct. 22 general elections.

“We understand that in August this will hurt people’s pockets,” he said. “We aim to correct this with measures that we are going to announce within a few days so that in some way in September and October we return to more reasonable levels.”

(Reporting by Jason Lange; additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Sandra Maler)