WASHINGTON, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Argentina’s finance minister criticized on Friday a deal the previous government made with the Paris Club of creditor nations and said the repayment schedule may need to be extended.
Former President Cristina Fernandez’s government reached an agreement in 2014 to clear around $9.7 billion of arrears over the next five years, a deal analysts praised at the time and said could help Argentina emerge from a record default.
Since then, Argentina elected market-friendly President Mauricio Macri and in April settled a legal dispute with hold-out creditors who had refused to accept the terms of debt restructurings related to a massive 2002 default, issuing $16.5 billion in debt to pay them. Fernandez called the hold-out creditors vultures.
Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay told journalists in Washington the Paris Club had not done much to help Argentina rejoin the global financial system.
“The previous government paid a fortune to get up to speed with the Paris Club and got absolutely nothing in return,” he said.
Prat-Gay, who was attending International Monetary Fund meetings, said Argentina had paid $1.6 billion to the Paris Club this year to respect the agreement, but lamented the Club had done nothing to help raise Argentina’s credit rating.
“It seems that at the minimum the rating has to improve and tomorrow we are ready to discuss longer terms, because the truth is that having to go to the market to repay the Paris Club is exactly the opposite philosophy of the Paris Club,” he said.
Moody’s rating service upgraded Argentina’s credit rating to B3 with a stable outlook from Caa1 in April, days before the country’s return to the bond market for the first time in 15 years. The rating is still six notches below investment grade. (Reporting by Christian Plumb; Additional reporting by Maximiliano Rizzi; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by James Dalgleish)