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Catholic Church blasts “irritating” Argentine government numbers on poverty

Friday, September 25th 2009 - 02:09 UTC
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The economy is cooling, unemployment is up but poverty is down, according to the Kirchner administration The economy is cooling, unemployment is up but poverty is down, according to the Kirchner administration

Argentina’s Catholic Church considers “irritating” the argument that poverty had diminished in the country when it is plain evidence that this is not the case, “rather the contrary”. It is indignant for Argentina that the system should consider the excluded as “a variable of political success”.

Monsignor Fernando Maletti from the Episcopal Committee for Support to the Needy Regions severely questioned the Argentine government’s latest release saying poverty and indigence in the country has dropped.

“It is indignant for Argentina that the system should consider the excluded as a variable of political success”, emphasized Maletti.

The Argentine Statistics and Census Institute, Indec, published a report based on the Homes Standing Survey which states that poverty in Argentina during the first half of the year dropped to 13.9% of the population and indigent to 4%. A projection of these percentages to the whole country (since the survey is based on 33 urban areas) would mean that compared to the first half of 2008, Argentina has 1.5 million less poor people.

These figures in a context where Indec admits that unemployment has increase and the Argentine economy has cooled significantly

Furthermore according to the head of Argentina’s Catholic University Social Observatory Agustin Silva it is “technically impossible” for any reduction in poverty and indigence levels in the first half of this year.

Maletti who is also the bishop of Bariloche in the south of Argentina said the situation “is very grave and serious, because every day the gap between the needy and resources widens”. And it is even more surprising and “irritating” that according to Indec, Patagonia is the region less impacted with a poverty level of 9.3%. “This has nothing to do with the poverty and inequality we face and live with every day”.

Savia said that there was a clear government intention to support these statistics “to distract attention from the real issue, which are not numbers but policies to address the reality of poverty and indigence”.

Furthermore the head of the Social Observatory pointed out that the last survey from the first half of 2008, showed that poverty in Argentina stood at 33% and based on this “we can say that in the first quarter of this year the level has gone up to 37%”, which is three times the official estimate.

“The government percentages are contrary to those from private consultants, other non government organizations and even former president Nestor Kirchner who recently spoke of 22 to 25% poverty in Argentina”, added Savia.

The last report from Indec says poverty in the first half of this year dropped from 17.8% to 13.9%, equivalent to 3.9 percentage points, compared to the same period in 2008. Indigence was down 1.1 percentage point from 5.1% to 4%.

This in human terms means that according to the Argentine government 709.000 homes with 3.429.000 people live in poverty, of which 232.000 homes and 995.000 people are indigent.

Categories: Economy, Politics, Argentina.

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