imfWASHINGTON: Directors of the International Monetary Fund will meet on February 1 to decide if and how to punish Argentina for not supplying accurate economic data, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Thursday.

 

But she also said that the IMF currently has a team of experts inside Argentina to prepare a review of the country's financial sector, suggesting the two sides continue to work together despite the data spat.

 

“We have had a mission on the ground with a view to put in place a FSAP, a financial sector assessment program, and that was a scoping mission, a preliminary mission, where we discuss with the authorities what aspect of the financial sector we will review," Lagarde told reporters.

 

“That is separate from the issue of the accuracy of data," she said.

 

In September, Lagarde warned that Argentina could be censured with a “red card" after nearly two years of pressing Buenos Aires to abide by IMF rules and provide accurate data on economic growth and inflation.

 

In December the executive board received a formal report on Argentina's non-compliance with the Fund's data rules, but the report's recommendations have not been divulged.

 

Economists suspect Argentina has long supplied false data on its economy. In 2011, for example, Buenos Aires announced national inflation stood at 9.5 percent, but private analysts estimated it was actually more than double that figure — at 23 percent.

 

The stand-off has worsened relations between Argentina and the IMF, already at odds over the country's financial crisis a decade ago.

 

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013