October 4, 2019 / 5:18 PM / 16 days ago

'The dead don't pay' - Fernandez ally tells IMF Argentina needs time to grow

(Reuters) - Argentina’s Sergio Massa, a key ally of presidential front-runner Alberto Fernandez, said on Friday that the International Monetary Fund should give the indebted country time to revive economic growth to be able to pay off its debts.

Massa, a former Argentine chief of staff who struck an alliance with Peronist opposition leader Fernandez earlier this year, said the IMF should see the relationship with Latin America’s No. 3 economy as a long-term journey.

“The responsibility that the Fund has today is to accompany Argentina in a 10-15 year project,” Massa said at an event at the Wilson Center in Washington.

He added that the IMF also had a responsibility to help countries like Argentina build up strong economies, warning that if the country was not given that support, it may not be able to repay its creditors.

“The dead don’t pay... Argentina needs to grow in order to pay,” he said.

Argentina is facing a debt crunch after a sharp market crash in August that pushed the country toward default and forced President Mauricio Macri to roll out plans to delay payments on around $100 billon of debt.

That included funds from a record $57 billion stand-by credit facility agreed with the IMF last year.

Massa, a centrist politician who has helped moderate Peronist Fernandez appeal to a broader voter base, is expected to play an important government role if Fernandez wins the general election later this month.

Amid questions over the IMF’s future in the country, the Fund said late last month that it remained fully engaged in discussions with Argentina and in helping the country get on a path to long-term growth and stability.

The Fund is expected to meet with an Argentine delegation later this month in Washington to review its program.

Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Dan Grebler

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