Argentina — страница 5

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undergoing major restructuring. Branches of the National Development Bank and the National Housing Bank have been closed since March 1990 and their staffs have been reduced by almost 75 percent. The government is liquidating the development bank and closing the housing bank's retail functions. It has established a second tier bank to be managed, and ultimately owned, by the private sector to mobilize financing for its investment needs. In response to a short-lived run on the peso in mid-November 1992 the authorities strengthened their commitments to the fixed exchange rate regime by permitting reserve requirements to be met either in foreign or domestic currency, and equalizing reserve requirements on foreign and domestic currency-denominated checking accounts in domestic

transactions. In February 1993 these measures were complemented by lowering reserve requirements and further deregulating commercial bank lending to the private sector. Term deposits under 30 days were eliminated to increase the average maturity of deposits in the domestic financial system and reduce the risks of a run on the banks. Finally, since April 1993, bank compliance with reserve requirements is based on a four-week moving average, which should reduce the volatility of short-term interest rates . Over the last six months Argentina has taken meas- ures to reduce interest rates and stimulate investment. In October 1992 it imposed a 2 percent per month ceiling on loans made by public banks, a measure also aimed at stimulating restructuring of these banks. In March 1993 it

began auctioning subsidy credits to banks, with the winner of the subsidy being the bank that offers to charge the lowest rates to final medium- and small-scale industrial borrowers. In May 1993 the authorities an- nounced the extension of the Banco de Nacion's credit lines-the largest official bank--and a reduction in its lending rates from 1.8 percent to 1.6 percent per month. They also declared that the bank's credit policy will be oriented toward export-oriented activities as well as agriculture, industry, mining, and tourism. Recent Macroeconomic Developments In 1992 the authorities continued to adjust the economy, extending the recent good economic performance. GDP grew by 8.7 percent, and industrial production grew in the 12 percent range for the second year in a row.

Employment rose by about 10 percent and investment expanded briskly in 1992, rising from 12.5 percent to 14.5 percent of GDP. The increased investment was financed by external savings, with gross national sav- ings declining moderately to 9.3 percent of GDP. Public savings rose by about 2 percentage points of GDP, while private savings fell. Fiscal performance has improved notably in the last two years. The overall balance moved into surplus in 1992 for the first time in decades with an operational primary surplus of 2.0 percent of GDP. Tax revenues increased from 13.5 percent of GDP in 1989 to nearly 24 percent between in 1992. In the same period, public expenditures fell as a percent of GDP. Capital spending and non-privatization receipts both declined slightly. The fiscal

surplus also was improved by the drop in dollar interest rate, which cut accrued interest obligations by 1.3 percent of GDP. However, interest obligations still exceeded the operational primary surplus slightly in 1992. Inflation continues to decelerate. The annualized inflation rate in the last quarter of 1992 was about 9 percent, compared to over 20 percent a year earlier. Nonetheless, inflation still exceeds international rates, which is necessary to sustain the fixed exchange rate regime . During 1992 capital inflows, jointly with the economic expansion, contributed to an 84 percent increase in imports; exports rose by 1 percent. As a result, the current account deficit for 1992 reached 5.2 percent of GDP, up from 2 percent a year ago. Capital inflows of $12.0 billion, mostly

private, more than offset the current account deficit, allowing a $3.4 billion accumulation of reserves. After signs of slowdown in economic activity during January and February 1993, industrial production recovered in March and April, with the first quarter of 1993 marking the eleventh consecutive month of economic expansion. Capital inflows recovered in the first quarter of 1993, further strengthening the level of international reserves. The monthly inflation rate between January and March 1993 averaged 0.7 percent, about the same as the last quarter of 1992. Medium-Term Prospects The government projects real growth averaging 6.5 percent over 1992-95. Over this period its fiscal program for aims at generating a primary surplus sufficient to finance interest obligations, thus