Argentine Senate approves austerity budget

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentine lawmakers have approved an austerity budget for 2019 that cuts social spending and raises debt payments to meet conditions from the International Monetary Fund.

The budget approved Thursday by the Senate projects a 0.5 percent slide in GDP and a 23 percent inflation rate by yearend, down from 44 percent this year.

It would cut the primary deficit before debt payments to zero — down from 2.6 percent of GDP this year.

Critics say it slashes social spending by 35 percent once inflation is accounted for. That prompted street protests in the capital during the debate.

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It also calls for a 50 percent increase in debt service payments in peso terms.

The cuts were called for in a $6.3 billion addition to an earlier $50 billion IMF credit line.

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