Argentina inflation hits 102.5% in worst spike in three decades
Buenos Aires, Mar 15 (EFE).- Argentina’s inflation rate rocketed past 100% in February for the first time since the Latin American country’s episodes of hyperinflation in 1989.
Inflation hit 102.5% in February, 3.7 percentage points more than January, and the highest rate since September 1991 (115%), the country’s statistics agency reported on Tuesday.
“The inflation data for February is undoubtedly very bad,” Argentina’s economic planning secretary, Gabriel Rubinstein, said.
Since 2002, South America’s second-largest economy has regularly had double-digit annual inflation rates, but global price hikes triggered by the war in Ukraine and unresolved imbalances in the local economy have seen Argentine month-to-month consumer prices climb steadily since early 2022.
Food and beverage prices grew dramatically by 9.8% in February, with average consumer prices soaring by 6.6% compared to the previous month.
“In particular, in February the impact of meat was very strong, which rose 19.5% due to the severe drought we (Argentina) are witnessing”, according to a statement from Rubinstein’s office.
“While weather conditions are having an impact on food production and prices, we continue working on fiscal and monetary policies that are consistent with much lower inflation rates, as well as income policies (agreements with businesses and others) aimed at helping to curb the inertial aspects of high inflation rates,” it added.
Several opposition leaders have criticized Argentina’s economy minister, Sergio Massa, in the wake of the figures’ release.
“In one year, your money is worth half. That’s what they did, that’s what we are going to change. We are going to restore the value of our currency, your work and your money,” said Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, Buenos Aires mayor, a member of the opposition coalition Juntos por el Cambio (‘Together for Change’) and a presidential candidate in upcoming elections.
Former economy minister Ricardo López Murphy, a member of the same coalition, said that “this economic disaster of stocks, prohibitions, populism and misery, is called Sergio Tomás Massa.”
Sergio Massa, who took over the role in August 2022, has pledged to ensure greater fiscal discipline and bring inflation under control.
But he faces growing pressure to boost purchasing power and preserve government subsidies for the most vulnerable sectors.
In the first half of 2022, some 10.6 million Argentines, or 36.5% of the total urban population, fell beneath the poverty line.
In October 2022, the average commodity price was 88% higher than in the same period last year.
The IMF approved a 30-month $44 billion bailout in early 2022 aimed at improving Argentina’s public finances and reducing persistent high inflation.
On 22 December 2022, the IMF disbursed $6 billion and said that “with a more challenging external and domestic backdrop, decisive program implementation will be critical to safeguard stability and program objectives.”EFE