Argentine annual inflation for 2013 was 28.38% after soaring 3.38% in the month of December alone, according to the Congressional consumer price index, which is a survey that takes the average of several consultancy firms.
Opposition leaders publish the figures to contrast them with the ones released monthly by the INDEC statistics bureau that is widely believed to have been underestimating inflation for years. The government is set to release the official 2013 inflation this week.
This version of the opposition’s so-called CPI Congress index will be the last before the government releases data collected with a reformed methodology, as commanded by the IMF following its censure on the country early last year.
The new government index will include federal data, as opposed to only from the Buenos Aires area.
“The people’s index — we say it’s the people’s index because it's the real index — was 3.38% for the month of December, the highest for the month of December in 22 years,” claimed Patricia Bullrich.
Radical lawmaker Patricia Giménez suggested the numbers contradicted expectations, claiming inflation for the last month of the year “was going to be lower than other Decembers, and even though we had the price agreement, prices went up and with a huge impact even in fuel.”
Federico Sturzenegger from the opposition Unión PRO alliance also took aim at the price agreement signed recently between the national government of President Cristina Fernandez and the country’s supermarkets and suppliers.
“These (price agreements) never work and this time it’s failed even before it’s been properly put in place,” he charged, claiming that the deal had in fact “served to accelerate inflation.”
Unlike his colleagues, Sturzenegger did not shy away from future gazing when he suggested the inflationary situation for 2014 “could be worse than in 2013” and linked his outlook to a fall in Central Bank reserves which he suggested the government has used to prop itself up.
Since 2007, when Interior Trade Secretary Guillermo Moreno was at the helm of the secretariat, official government reporting on inflation has come in at around 10% per year while private estimates were closer to 25%.
During his time in the role, Moreno — who in 2007 introduced amendments to the bureau’s methodology for inflation — attempted to impede private consultancies from reporting inflation data, imposing fines on those who did so, although they were later overturned by the courts.
Asked about her expectations regarding a shift in the government’s approach to inflation reports, lawmaker Patricia Bullrich indicated that “if the new index by (Axel) Kicillof is real then it will no longer make sense to present these firms’ inflation data”.