BUENOS AIRES, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay said Argentina would hold tough debt negotiations with U.S. investment firms suing over unpaid debt, as preliminary talks got underway in New York on Wednesday.
Prat-Gay said the claims from holdout creditors now totalled $9.9 billion and that the previous leftist government’s failure to settle with the creditors had cost the economy dear.
“We’re not going to ignore the issue. We hope the holdouts take the negotiations seriously,” Prat-Gay told a news conference.
The minister said Argentina’s primary fiscal deficit, which excludes debt payments, was 5.8 percent in 2015 and would fall by a single percentage point in 2016. He said the government wanted to eliminate subsidies for public services for the 30-40 percent of wealthiest Argentines.
The center-right government’s financing plan for 2016 would depend on progress in the debt negotiations, he said.
“The primary fiscal deficit is at its highest in 30 years,” Prat-Gay said.
Inflation will ease to between 20 and 25 percent this year from 28 percent in 2015, the minister forecast, and would slow to 5 percent in 2019.
Reporting by Buenos Aires newsroom