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BUENOS AIRES: People use the escalators in a shopping mall in Buenos Aires on April 12, 2024. – AFP
BUENOS AIRES: People use the escalators in a shopping mall in Buenos Aires on April 12, 2024. – AFP

Argentina’s inflation slows, nearing 290% year-on-year

BUENOS AIRES: Consumer price increases in Argentina slowed for a third consecutive month in March to 11 percent, data showed, but annual inflation still remains sky-high at more than 287 percent. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase for March was lower than the 13.2 percent rise registered in February and 20.6 percent the month before, according to the INDEC statistics agency.

For the first quarter of 2024, inflation came in at 51.6 percent. Self-described “anarcho-capitalist” President Javier Milei had said this week any rise of around 10 percent for the month of May would be “a hell of a goal.” In December, the month he took office, the CPI leapt by 25.5 percent, provoked by Milei’s devaluation of the peso by more than 50 percent.

Milei, vowing to halt Argentina’s economic decline, has taken a number of steps to slash public spending, winning the approval of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and securing a budget surplus for the first time in 12 years. He halted state subsidies for fuel and transport, cut tens of thousands of public service jobs and scrapped hundreds of rules in a bid to deregulate the economy. His efforts have hit Argentines hard, with the price of bus tickets almost tripling and aid cut to thousands of soup kitchens as poverty hit a level of nearly 60 percent and disposable income shrunk.

Experts say the slowdown in CPI does not translate into good news for Argentines, as it is linked to a sharp drop in consumption. “The inflation rate is falling in step with a sharp decline in economic activity and an increase in prices measured in dollars,” former Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo wrote on his blog. While the IMF - which has a $44 billion credit program with Argentina - has praised Milei’s efforts to balance the books, it has warned about the impacts on the poor. — AFP

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