Acting days ahead of a trip by President Bush to Latin America, the Treasury yesterday said it would issue $7.5 billion in zero-coupon bonds to help Venezuela restructure its foreign debt. It set the price and fee to blunt the type of criticism that followed the issuance of similar bonds earlier for Mexico, however.
Venezuela is the last stop on the Latin American tour that Bush will begin on Sunday.
The earlier arrangement with Mexico had come under criticism in Congress and from the General Accounting Office. The GAO said that the Treasury had effectively given a subsidy to Mexico.
The Treasury said yesterday it will price the Venezuela bond in a way that will make the purchase price slightly more expensive for Venezuela than it would have been if priced the same way as Mexico's. But the fee paid to the Treasury will be smaller.
Venezuela is behind in repaying its debt to Western governments and banks. The Treasury bond will become the first step in a complex financial arrangement that will allow Venezuela to refinance and restructure that debt under the so-called Brady plan, named after Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady.
Separately, the International Monetary Fund cleared a $267 million loan to Argentina yesterday to support the South American country's economic adjustment program.
About $67 million will be set aside to help with the reduction of debts to Argentina's commercial banks. In November 1989, the IMF approved a $1.6 billion loan to support economic reforms in Argentina, but the amount was cut to $1.1 billion early this year because of Argentina's failure to meet some conditions of the agreement.