The new Argentine government has devalued the peso by more than 50% as part of a package of spending cuts aimed at tackling the country’s worst economic crisis in decades, The Guardian reported.

Prior to the move, Argentina’s foreign exchange and grains markets had been locked down as traders anticipated the new government’s economic plan, the 13 December report said.

Introduced by the country’s new president Javier Milei, the plans also included cutting energy subsidies and cancelling tenders for public works, The Guardian wrote.

In addition to the major exchange rate devaluation, the government also indicated other initiatives could be introduced that could affect the country’s agricultural export sector, AgriCensus reported on 13 December.

In a televised address on 13 December, the country’s economy minister Luis Caputo moved to weaken the official exchange rate to 800 pesos/US$ – it had previously been 366.5US$. Caputo said the central bank would target a monthly devaluation of 2%, The Guardian wrote.

Although Caputo had initially said there would be no increases in export taxes on agricultural products, official sources later said export taxes (retenciones) would increase to 15% for all products.

Caputo was quoted as saying the devaluation and other measures, which were welcomed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), would be painful in the short-term but were needed to cut the country’s fiscal deficit and bring down soaring triple digit inflation.

Argentina’s central bank was expected to announce the new monetary measures on 13 December, the report said.

“The objective is simply to avoid catastrophe and get the economy back on track,” Caputo was quoted as saying in a recorded speech. “There is no more money.”

At the time of The Guardian report, the South American country – a large grain producer – had an inflation rate approaching 150%, depleted central bank reserves and two-fifths of the population in poverty.

The country also has a US$44bn loan with the IMF.