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ARGENTINA | 12-10-2019 08:52

‘Zero interference’ – Alberto Fernández plays down CFK’s role

Presidential hopeful Alberto Fernández has offered investors some food for thought, reiterating that he will seek a “Uruguayan” style solution to Argentina’s debt crisis if elected president and declaring that his running-mate, former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, would have little say in the make-up of his Cabinet.

The Peronist challenger also said he would seek to appoint “a strong economy minister” who has “no inferiority complex.” There has been plenty of speculation as to who would join a Cabinet led by Fernández, with names such as Roberto Lavagna – a rival in the October 27 election – proposed by analysts.

“I want whoever is in charge of that ministry to be able to resolve and decide, I learned that from Lavagna in 2003,” said Fernández,

His declarations had an immediate impact on the financial markets, with Argentina’s country risk indicator dropping by more than 100 points to close at 1890.

CFK’S ROLE

His most eye-catching comments this week referred to Fernández de Kirchner. The former president’s government was viewed as protectionist and antagonistic by markets and investors, who fear she will hold a large sway over Fernández’s administration, should he defeat President Mauricio Macri at the ballot box in two weeks time.

Reports earlier this week suggested that the US Ambassador in Argentina, Edward Prado, had sought a meeting with Fernández de Kirchner as the United States tries to establish the level of influence she has over the Frente de Todos frontrunner.

Speaking to Radio La Red on Thursday, Fernández left no room for debate, declaring that she would have “cero injerencia” (roughly, “zero intervention” or “zero impact”) over the assembly of a Cabinet.

“It’s a recurring question, a topic that doesn’t bother me in the least,” he continued. “Now, if the question is whether I’m going to work with her, it’s yes, because she’s a woman with eight years of experience, and a major leader who can help a lot.”

Fernández said he would seek “dialogue” with ”everyone,” including President Macri. However, he added that “I am not sure what anyone who has denied this chaos can contribute.”

The two leading candidates were no longer in regular contact, he added, saying he had not spoken to his rival since “a long time ago.”

‘A LA URUGUAYA’

In an interview with the radio station, Fernández said he would seek an exit from Argentina’s debt crisis “a la uruguaya,” saying he would seek to talk to creditors to “solve the issue.”

Uruguay is often cited as a successful case of debt “reprofiling” in emerging markets. Without changing coupons, the government succeeded in launching a voluntary debt exchange that lengthened debt maturities on 18 international bonds. An overwhelming majority of creditors accepted the terms of the new bonds, avoiding a default while Uruguay’s economy recovered.

Fernández has previously said he would seek to buy time to repay Argentina’s debt without imposing a haircut on investors, if elected.

The former Cabinet chief then reiterated his view that Argentina had “virtually defaulted” on its debt, criticising the Macri administration. “The Government said it cannot pay,” he added.

Addressing the election directly, Fernández played down comments that he was set to win the race for the Casa Rosada.

“No election is defined until the last vote is counted,” he said.

LOW-KEY

For the most part, Fernández’s week was generally more low-key than Macri’s, as the duo prepare for a crucial debate in Santa Fe this Saturday.

Among the headline items were the Frente de Todos hopeful’s meeting with his Uruguayan presidential candidate for the Frente Amplio (“Broad Front”), Daniel Martínez – at which Fernández hailed “Latin American integration” and the “indissoluble” bond between the two countries.

In the most high-profile event of the candidate’s week, the presidential hopeful on Monday unveiled his ‘Argentina sin Hambre’ (“Argentine without hunger”) programme, a plan that would see representatives from the State, businesses and social organisations unite under the framework of a new federal council, which would seek to implement a sustainable food policy for Argentina and lower the price of essential items in the basic food basket.

“It is not possible that in the country of wheat, the country of cows, [the price of] bread and milk do not stop rising and are missing from the table of Argentines,” said the Frente de Todos candidate, who went on to mock the government’s handling of debt repayments.

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