Argentina Freezes Prices On Staples From Milk To Cookies To Curb Inflation
Argentina plans to freeze prices on dozens of staple products, including rice, sugar and milk, in a bid to rein in rampant inflation and support hard-hit consumers ahead of national elections at the end of the year.
The government said on Wednesday it had agreed with retailers to fix prices on 60 'essential' products for at least six months, and that it would hold public service prices steady for the rest of the year.
The measures come after inflation sped up to 4.7% in March and was running at a 12-month rate of almost 55%, a trend that has sapped people's spending power and hammered President Mauricio Macri in the polls.
Other staples in the price freeze include cooking oils, flour, yogurts, jams, biscuits and Yerba mate tea, a ubiquitous beverage in Argentina sipped through a metal straw.
The President's office said the measures would "protect Argentineans in this time of transition, so that together we can beat inflation." Prices rose almost 50% in 2018 as the economy was buffeted by a plunging peso and recession.
Macri will seek re-election later this year, but is facing flagging popular support as he seeks to restore growth in the country, rein in inflation, prevent a run on the peso currency and halt a rise in poverty.
The country's major cities have regularly seen protests against rising prices and hikes to public utilities, which have climbed sharply as the government has cut back on once generous subsidies as part of a deficit reduction program.
The latest measures by the government also come on the heels of new central bank measures announced on Tuesday, also aimed at tempering inflation.