LONDON -- Peru will seek to open negotiations later this year with commercial bank creditors on a solution to its debt problems, said Finance Minister Carlos Bolona. "We want to meet before the end of 1992 to renew contacts," Mr. Bolona said in an interview.
The minister said Peru owes the commercial banks $5.5 billion, of which 80% is in arrears. Under the government of former President Alan Garcia, in 1984, Peru stopped servicing its external debt, which totals $22 billion.
But since President Alberto Fujimori came to power in 1990, Peru has moved to regularize its position with external creditors. Peru has made progress with the multilateral financial institutions and the Paris Club of official bilateral creditors, but the commercial banks have been little movement.
Overthrow of Government a Factor
Mr. Fujimori's presidential coup in April delayed a renewal of contacts with the banks, Mr. Bolona said. "We want a longer-term solution to the commercial debt question," Mr. Bolona said. He declined comment on what type of restructuring might take place.
Analysts think the Peruvians have rejected the idea of a Bolivian-style buyback of debt at a deep discount as having long-term negative implications.
But, given Peru's high country-risk factor, banks are unlikely to adopt a solution that is not highly guaranteed with collateral for the principal and interest payments.
Mr. Bolona said Peru's fiscal situation precludes any resumption of interest payments, even on a partial basis. Mr. Bolona said Peru's rights-accumulation program with the International Monetary Fund should be completed by yearend. Under this program, countries that are in arrears to the fund accumulate rights to future borrowings which will pay off their arrears - $900 million in Peru's case.
Progress Expected on World Bank Balance
The country owes another $900 million to the World Bank and also hopes to clear this by yearend.
Mr. Bolona said Peru would then hope to sign an extended fund facility with the International Monetary Fund next year. "The World Bank has already approved credits worth $1 billion," Mr. Bolona said.
The extended fund would lead to a further rescheduling of debt-service payments owed to the Paris Club, he added. Peru owes other Western countries $7.5 billion, of which 80% is in arrears.
Peru also owes $2 billion to countries from the former Eastern bloc. "That's very difficult to pay because I don't know who to pay it to," Mr. Bolona said.