Argentina sees first monthly budget surplus in 12 years

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The Argentine government in January saw its first monthly budget surplus in nearly 12 years, as new President Javier Milei continues to push for strong spending cuts, the Economy Ministry announced.

January was the first full month in office for Milei, a far-right libertarian who took office in December, and it ended with a positive balance for public-sector finances of $589 million at the official exchange rate, the government said.

The figure includes payment of interest on the public debt.

It is “the first (monthly) financial surplus since August 2012, and the first surplus for a January since 2011,” the Economy Ministry said, according to the official Telam news agency.

Milei has been negotiating with the International Monetary Fund over its $44 billion loan and has vowed to achieve balance in public finances this year.

“The zero deficit is not negotiable,” Economy Minister Luis Caputo said on X, the former Twitter.

Milei, an economist, has advocated sharp cuts in spending and a reduction of public debt on the way to a dollarization of the economy.

Following a 50 percent devaluation of the peso, a lifting of price controls and strong rate increases, Argentina saw an inflation rate for January of 20.6 percent, with a 12-month rate of 254.2 percent.

The year 2023, the final year of the center-left government of Alberto Fernandez, ended with a 211 percent inflation rate.

With poverty affecting 45 percent of the population, Milei has predicted an economic rebound within three months.

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