Official inflation in Argentina during March was 2.6%, according to Economy minister Axel Kicillof who underlined that during the month there was a considerable deceleration in the increase of prices, in most items with the exception of clothing and private schooling.
However the so called congressional index, an average of private consultants which is released every month by the Freedom of Speech Committee of the Argentine Legislative put the March figure at 3.3%.
Our surveys from the Domestic Trade office indicate that the slowdown in price-expansion has grown into the first two weeks of April, said Kicillof.
Under the new index calculi elaborated in conjunction with the IMF, consumer prices in Argentina jumped 3.7% in January and 3.4% in February and now 2.6% totaling 9.8% in the first quarter of the year.
According to the release from Indec, the official stats office, during March education was up 8.1% and clothing, 7.3%, while food with the exception of some non-seasonal items was below 3%. Transport, leisure, medicine and pharmaceuticals were down.
Kicillof also took time to criticize the private consultants index, mainly the Congressional inflation average rate which in March marked 3.3%
We do not know anything about any of the indices that have been published, what products they study or in which geographic zones, he fired. Kicillof continued in an ironic manner, stating he was scared that on mentioning them, [private consultants] will keep putting up a higher index.
According to the congressional index, twelve month inflation in Argentina reached 37.26%. The opposition lawmakers also indicated that we still have our technical doubts about the new official index.
I would suggest that businesses and other activities take as a national inflation reference the Congressional index, we believe it is more reliable, said Federico Sturzennegger, economist and opposition lawmaker.
Since 2007 when former president Nestor Kirchner sent his political appointees to replace professionals at the Indec stats office, inflation in Argentina has always been below two digits, in open discrepancy with the measurements from provincial governments that were not aligned with the Kirchcher couple coalition.
This led the opposition to make a monthly release of the average inflation indexes from private consultants that were intimidated with fines if they made their percentages public.
This is how the congressional index was born, more reliable and always at least double the Indec percentages.