By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON, July 6 (Reuters) - Argentina's new economy chief, Silvina Batakis, told IMF officials that she supports the objectives of a $44 billion International Monetary Fund program and will work constructively with the global lender, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday.
Georgieva told Reuters that she would underscore the IMF's desire to continue supporting Argentina when she speaks with Batakis later Wednesday, following Batakis' swearing-in late Monday after the abrupt departure of her predecessor, Martin Guzman.
Batakis has already spoken with the head of the IMF's Western Hemisphere department and committed to support the objectives of the IMF program, which Guzman negotiated to replace a failed 2018 loan.
Guzman's departure has sparked concerns of a shift toward populist policies and state spending in Argentina, which is grappling with sky-high inflation, while raising concerns that the new government would seek to change the terms of the IMF deal.
"The world is really changing very rapidly, but she did commit to the objectives of the program and she did commit to work with the fund constructively to achieve these objectives," Georgieva said.
She said Argentina faces a "very complex, very difficult time," and the IMF would do what it could to help Argentine authorities deal with surging inflation.
"The minister ... understands the purpose of fiscal discipline and also understands that if you want to help the poor it cannot be in conditions of galloping inflation," Georgieva said.
Asked if Batakis would push for changes to the IMF program. Georgieva said Guzman also had different views than the IMF on occasion and said it was important to reach consensus by exploring different options.
"We need to be clear that painful actions are sometimes necessary to reap the benefits of these actions," she said. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Leslie Adler)