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Last Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005, 04:42 GMT
Argentina to pay off debt early
By Daniel Schweimler
BBC News, Buenos Aires

President Nestor Kirchner announces the early debt repayment
Kirchner said his country was 'burying much of its history of debt'
Argentina has said it will pay its $10bn debt to the International Monetary Fund three years early.

President Nestor Kirchner said Argentina needed control of the tools to build its independence.

His announcement came two days after Brazil, in a similar move, said it would pay off its $15bn debt.

Argentine relations with the IMF have been difficult since the country's government defaulted on a debt of over $100bn four years ago.

Millions of dollars were taken out of the country and many of Argentina's large middle class found themselves knocking on the ramshackle doors of the country's growing shanty towns.

Tens of thousands of others left to start new lives abroad.

But, against the odds, Mr Kirchner has turned things around.

Long wait

Earlier this year his government renegotiated more than $100bn of debt with private creditors and now he has said that the IMF will get the $10bn dollars it is owed by the end of the year - three years early.

The money will come from Argentina's foreign reserves and by paying off the debt they will save $1bn in interest.

The economy is growing at an impressive rate and, speaking after the president, new Economy Minister Felisa Miceli said exports were at a record high.

The head of the IMF, Rodrigo Rato, said he was sure that paying off the debt would bring positive results for Argentina.

The economic future certainly looks brighter than it did just a few years ago but it will still be some time before the benefits of this move filter down to the many Argentines living below the poverty line and to those still reeling from the crisis four years ago.

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