13 Apr 2024, 08:15

Colombia to seek new debt repayment terms from IMF

BOGOTÁ, April 13, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Colombia said Friday it would ask the International Monetary Fund to renegotiate repayments on the remainder of a $6 billion loan it was granted during the Covid-19 pandemic, but which is now "asphyxiating" the country's finances.

Finance Minister Ricardo Bonilla said he had been asked by President Gustavo Petro to meet IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva "to look at alternatives" for repayment. A formal request will be made next week at an IMF meeting in Washington.

Bogota has already settled $650 million of the original loan, the finance ministry told AFP.

Payments scheduled for 2024 and 2025 would "reduce the possibilities for investment," Bonilla said at a public event in Cartagena.

"The debate is this: do we pay the debt or do we invest? Or how do we balance the two? It is the most important macroeconomic discussion we have for 2024," said Bonilla.

Petro, Colombia's first-ever leftist president and an economist by training, on Thursday accused his conservative predecessor Ivan Duque of being the "father of debt in Colombia" due to the loan taken in 2020 to deal with the economic fallout of the pandemic.

"We will discuss how we can improve the debt profile of Colombia because it is asphyxiating us, hanging us," Petro added.

Colombia's total debt amounted to nearly $224 billion by the end of 2023, about 52 percent of GDP, according to the finance ministry.


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