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Buying time to reenergize the slumping economy, the government of Argentina announced a plan to trade $29.48 billion worth of short-term bonds for issues that will not mature until as late as 2031. The move is designed to save more than $16 billion in debt-servicing over the next five years - about half of that between now and Jan 1, 2003. But critics noted that the plan also carries a high risk for the future because it adds significantly to the national debt burden after 2006, whether the economy has recovered or not. Argentina, mired in a three-year-long recession, owes $128 billion, or almost half its gross domestic product. Last December, the International Monetary Fund pledged a new bailout package worth about $40 billion.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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