Argentina leader vows to make good on debt

Buenos Aires (AFP) –


President elect Alberto Fernandez said Tuesday he will make good on Argentina's debt payments but without new austerity measures because people in his country are already hard-pressed financially.

"We cannot make more fiscal adjustments because the situation is enormously complicated," Fernandez, a center-left Peronist, said in a statement after speaking with IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva.

Fernandez's predecessor Mauricio Macri last year negotiated a $57 billion bailout from the IMF to halt a devastating currency skid.

The economy is in recession and expected to shrink by 3.1 percent this year, according to the IMF. More than a third of the population lives below the poverty line. Inflation is running at 42 percent.

Fernandez, with former president Cristina Kirchner as his running mate, defeated Macri in October elections.

The return of the Peronists had prompted fears that Argentina might not live up to its debt obligations.

The government has important debt payments coming up next year, both of principal and interest.

The government says that as of the second quarter of this year Argentina's debt totaled $336 billion, or 80 percent of GDP.