Argentina Quietly Hires Private Firm to Measure Inflation

EspañolThe Argentinean government has hired a private firm to measure inflation, demonstrating distrust in its own disputed statistics, says a report published on Monday, January 1, by the investigative journalism blog Eliminando Variables.

A call for bids from the private sector requires consultancy firms to provide a weekly report on supermarket prices in Argentina
A call for bids from the private sector requires consultancy firms to provide a weekly report on supermarket prices in Argentina. (Eliminando Variables)

In December, Economic Minister Axel Kicillof issued a call for bids from the private sector to provide “weekly reports on supermarket prices of representative products in the consumption basket,” according to the investigation.

Although the recently hired firm has not yet been publicly named, it will report to the Secretariat of Commerce after conducting on-site surveys of 200 products in 20 supermarkets, including items under price controls.

The decision contradicts previous statements made by government officials who have dismissed price estimates from private consultants as offering “no consistency.”

The so-called Consumer Price Index Congress, based on an average of private estimates, “is the CPI of the opposition,” said Kicillof in December, as the administration moved to ban the alternative inflationary index. “Regarding the methodology, they don’t even measure price; they just calculate an average of private estimates.”

Argentineans have been coping with high inflation rates since 2007. While private estimates say inflation in 2014 reached over 40 percent, government statistics only measured a 24 percent increase in prices that same year.

The official number is just one point short of what President Cristina Kirchner said would mean a “collapse of the Argentinean economy” during a speech at Harvard University in 2012.

As Argentina’s inflation problems turned more serious, the government replaced key employees at the Indec, the body responsible for census and statistics, with those loyal to the administration.

In 2010, then Secretary of Commerce Guillermo Moreno fined private consultancy firms for disseminating inflation rates that differed from the official index. Three years later, several courts ruled the fines had no legal basis, and former Secretary Moreno is now set to face trial for his actions.

Source: Eliminando Variables.

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