The Central Bank’s debt to importers already reaches 14,000 million dollars

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Due to the shortage of dollars, the debt that the Central Bank maintains with importers continues to expand. Closed in 2022 y US$10.950 million and already adds at least more $3.2 billion so far this year.

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The economist Salvador Vitelli explained that the Central Bank it increased its debt to merchandise importers by US$700 million last March. The accumulated figure for 2023 is $3.2 billion for goods alone, as data for services is not yet available.

“Everything indicates that the debt will continue to grow throughout the year together with the increase in import restrictions,” Vitelli underlined. Together with the $10,950 million it has accumulated in debts to pay for imports and services, today red already exceeds 14,000 million dollars.

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It is a large enough debt that logically continues to generate pressure on the exchange ratebecause in the end, it’s dollars that you don’t have and that at some point you’ll have to fork over.”

“If we calculate that the net reserves are about 1,000 million dollars, as a result of this debt we are at least US$13,000 million in net negative reservesa very bulky amount,” he added.

Central Bank debt began to grow starting last June when, in the midst of a shortage of foreign currency, the Government forced importers to finance their purchases for a period of 180 days. At the end of this period, the Central clears them for access to foreign currency.

In mid-October, Minister Sergio Massa launched the SIRA, a system of “traceability and ordering of imports” which replaces the previous SIMI.

This new system was supposed to would give importers predictability, as now they would know exactly when Central will deliver the dollars at the official exchange.

But that didn’t solve the underlying problem: Importers spend six months or more waiting to receive those dollars and the debt increases month after month.

“In recent months, more imports have accrued than those paid in arrears and therefore the amount of the debt has continued to grow,” explained Vitelli.

In March, the exchange balance indicated that operations for Loans and credit lines had a red of US$ 491 million. “Payments grew 33% annually during the first quarter, a reflection of forcing importers to finance their trades in 180 days,” consultancy firm LCG said.

In this way, in March the ratio between the amount paid (Single Market and Free Trade (MULC) basis) and the amount accrued (Argentina Commercial Exchange basis) increased, settling at 90%. “levels not seen since December 2022”LCG noted.

Going forward, debt is expected to continue to rise. Ten days ago, the Central Office made it official that importers of services will also have to wait. It was when he made changes to the payment of professional services and goods between related companies, with the goal of deferring payments for 60 days (90 in the case of cargo) and take care of reserves. This is where legal, accounting, engineering, advertising and management services come into play.

In addition, the Central has ordered the prior authorization for the payment of interest on the intercompany debt, which together will allow defer payments of US$ 2,000 million to the end of the year.


Source: Clarin

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