IMF says El Salvador’s bitcoin dangers haven’t materialized however ‘must be addressed’


By Brendan O’Boyle

(Reuters) – Dangers over El Salvador’s embrace of bitcoin “haven’t materialized,” however use of the cryptocurrency nonetheless requires transparency and a focus, the Worldwide Financial Fund (IMF) mentioned Friday in an announcement after a go to to the Central American nation.

“Given the authorized dangers, fiscal fragility and largely speculative nature of crypto markets, the authorities ought to rethink their plans to broaden authorities exposures to bitcoin,” the IMF mentioned in an announcement.

The annual go to by IMF workers adopted a $600 million bond fee by El Salvador final month amid investor issues over its financing sources and financial coverage.

The IMF’s so-called “article IV” go to has been sharply important previously. El Salvador’s transfer to make bitcoin authorized tender in September 2021 successfully closed the doorways to IMF financing.

Whereas the lender famous that dangers “haven’t materialized because of the restricted bitcoin use to date,” it mentioned the cryptocurrency’s “use might develop given its authorized tender standing and new legislative reforms to encourage using crypto belongings, together with tokenized bonds.”

El Salvador’s Congress final month handed a legislation regulating the issuance of digital belongings by each the state and personal entities.

President Nayib Bukele introduced on Twitter a sequence of purchases of some 2,380 bitcoin earlier than mid November, when he mentioned the Treasury would purchase a bitcoin on daily basis.

If these purchases have been made, the federal government holds almost 2,470 cash acquired for about $106.4 million. The present worth of that funding is $52.2 million, for a paper loss over 50%.

The numbers are Reuters estimates, as the federal government doesn’t formally disclose purchases, holdings or the place the cash are stored.

“Larger transparency over the federal government’s transactions in bitcoin and the monetary state of affairs of the state-owned bitcoin-wallet (Chivo) stays important,” the IMF mentioned.

The IMF highlighted the “full restoration” of El Salvador’s economic system to pre-pandemic ranges, “pushed by the efficient authorities response to the well being disaster.”

Actual GDP is projected to develop by 2.4 p.c in 2023, the IMF mentioned, above the historic common.

Nonetheless, the lender additionally expressed concern over a rising present account deficit and the attainable spillover results of a recession in america.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Boyle and Rodrigo Campos; Further reporting by Kylie Madry; Modifying by Anthony Esposito and David Gregorio)