Argentina has extended a price freeze on mobile, internet, and TV services until the end of 2020 after deeming them “essential public services”. The freeze prevents operators from increasing tariffs unless they receive permission from the country’s government. A price freeze has been in place since May and had been due to expire at the end of August.
The extension is the latest move by Argentina’s government to prevent prices from spiraling out of control, as inflation runs to 42% annually. A nationwide lockdown aimed at containing the Covid-19 outbreak has added to Argentina’s economic worries, with the country facing what is expected to be its deepest ever recession.
After extensive talks – and nine defaults - the government has agreed a deal with investors over its US$65 billion in debt. However, while it must now move to inspire confidence among international markets, its President Alberto Fernandez has implemented populist measures to help cope with the pandemic.
These include banning redundancies, doubling severance pay, freezing prices on around 2000 consumer goods considered to be essential, and enforcing certain currency controls. However, these are the types of measures that could cast doubt over its repayment deal with the International Monetary Fund.
Fernandez took to Twitter to say: “As we face the restrictions the pandemic imposes on us, nobody should have to give up part of their income to cover price hikes on those services. We’re guaranteeing access for everyone.”