At least 7 million Argentines, or 18.8% of the population, currently find themselves under the poverty line, with 1.7 million (4.2%) classed as in extreme poverty or indigence, according to a new report from the Argentine Workers' Central (CTA) union headed by the Cristina Fernandez government ally Hugo Yasky.
The statistics almost quadruple the last figures given by the National Statistics and Census Institute (INDEC) in October 2013, where according to the official agency poverty affected just 4.7 percent of the population.
Yasky recognized the difference between the CTA figures and the government's, while point out that these findings were still far below estimates made by private institutes.
The union chief stated that 7 million Argentines lived in poverty; some 10 million fewer than in 2003, taking as a reference a report put together using data from the Argentine Centre for Research and Training (CIFRA).
The methodology used by CIFRA is the same as that used before INDEC's intervention, so we can avoid any suspicion, and it is also important to emphasize that [the study] was carried out based on data measured in nine provinces, Yasky explained.
The poverty index gave a result of 18.8%, much different from those published by newspapers Clarín and La Nación based on private consultants.
The CIFRA rate was calculated by reconfiguring the value of the so-called Basic Basket, a selection of key household items. While in INDEC records the Basket is valued at 1,783 pesos for a family, the Centre estimates its costs at just over 4.000 pesos.
The Basic Food Basket, meanwhile, used to measure extreme poverty, is estimated to cost 1,783 pesos by CIFRA, against the INDEC's 787 Pesos.
For the CTA head, these figures show that although there are some problems in Argentina, this is not the catastrophe that those who push to raise prices devaluing workers' salaries want to make us believe it is.
However the Argentine Social Debt Observatory from the prestigious Argentine Catholic University, Agustin Salvia, estimated that poverty and indigence in Argentina are closer to 25% and 5% respectively, following on data collected since the last release from December 2012. This means 10 million Argentines are catalogued as living in poverty.
Likewise Graciela Bevacqua, a former head of Indec, sacked by then president Nestor Kirchner said that the real estimates of the basic food basket in Argentina for a family of four last March was 3.330 Pesos (over 400 dollars) and the total basket, 7.525 Pesos (plus 950 dollars).