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Argentina rules out pandemic relief program in 2021

(Bloomberg) – Argentina will not need a new version of the emergency check payment relief program it implemented last year amid the pandemic, according to a senior government official, eliminating a threat looming over the weak fiscal position of the country This year, the Argentine government is working on a baseline scenario in which national circulation will not be restricted, as was the case in March, at the beginning of the confinement, said the official, who asked not to be identified because the talks they are private. While some trade limits were recently put in place, as cases approached October highs, these were milder than the 2020 full lockdown. Avoiding strict limitation of circulation will lessen the need to implement another delivery of the paycheck program for vulnerable sectors, including the unemployed and independent workers, known by its Spanish acronym, IFE (Family Income Emergency), the person said. A spokesman for the Ministry of Economy declined to comment. At its peak, before being gradually dismantled, the program provided nearly 9 million Argentines, or about 20% of the country’s population, a monthly payment of 10,000 pesos (US $ 116 ) during three months. The IFE payments help to understand why the government reported on Wednesday a primary fiscal deficit, which excludes interest payments, of 6.5% of gross domestic product in 2020, much larger than the gap of 0.4% in 2019 The IFE subsidy is not included in the 2021 budget, but some government officials have said its resumption would depend on the progress of the virus. Argentina reported a total of 1,831,681 cases of covid-19 and more than 46,000 deaths. In the last days of December, the country began its vaccination campaign, having so far administered more than 240,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. Without the check payment program, the Government hopes to reduce the primary deficit this year to 4, 5% of GDP. Reducing the deficit a bit will be a central part of the pending agreement between Argentina and the International Monetary Fund. The South American nation owes the IMF around US $ 45 billion and the new pact under negotiation is expected to describe a general economic plan of which the Government has not provided details.Original Note: Argentina Rules Out Resuming Covid Handouts for Workers in 2021For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source. © 2021 Bloomberg LP

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