September 17, 2012 / 11:43 PM / 5 years ago

IMF meets to consider progress on Argentina data

WASHINGTON, Sept 17 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund board met on Monday to discuss whether Argentina has made progress in improving the quality of its inflation and growth data since an IMF warning in February, an IMF spokesman said.

The Fund did not immediately issue a statement on the meeting although one is expected. It is likely the IMF will give Argentina more time to comply with international standards in reporting its statistics.

The country has been accused of under-reporting its economic data. Those concerns prompted the IMF to issue a 180-day warning to Buenos Aires on Feb. 1 to bring the data in line with global standards or face the possibility of sanctions.

Initiating sanctions would be part of a gradual process that could range from public reprimand to eventual expulsion. Only the former Czechoslovakia has ever been thrown out of the IMF’s ranks, which occurred in 1954.

Some private economists have questioned whether Argentina has under reported inflation since 2007, while others have expressed increasing skepticism over the country’s economic growth and industrial output figures.

The country reported 8.9 percent growth in 2011, but independent analysts have said the government overstated that number by as much as 3 percentage points. The government has denied any data manipulation.

Relations between the IMF and Argentina have been strained since 2006 when Buenos Aires repaid all of its IMF loans and effectively severed ties with the Fund by not allowing IMF officials to conduct annual economic checks that are done in all IMF member countries.

Argentina asked the IMF in 2010 to design a new nationwide consumer price index that has never been implemented.

The government and many ordinary Argentines still blame IMF policies for precipitating Argentina’s 2001/02 debt crisis.

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