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ARGENTINA | 10-04-2019 17:37

Peña offers mea culpa over Cambiemos' inflation campaign promise

"We were wrong to say that it was easy" to lower inflation during 2015 campaign, admits influential Cabinet chief in remarks from Chamber of Deputies.

Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña offered a mea culpa on behalf of Cambiemos in Congress today, acknowledging that the government had been wrong to say that lowering inflation in Argentina would be easy.

During campaigning for the 2015 election, then-candidate Mauricio Macri promised that eliminating runaway price increases would be "the simplest thing" to do.

With a nod to Argentina's soaring inflation rate – which reached 47.6 percent last year, according to official statistics – Peña, a key Mauricio Macri administration official and part of the president's inner circle, told Congress that the Cambiemos (Let's Change) coalition had misjudged the difficulties.

Last year, Argentina recorded the second-highest rate of inflation in Latin America, after Venezuela, and one of the highest tallies in the world.

"We were wrong to say that it was easy, yes," Peña admitted, before criticising opposition lawmakers who responded to the remark. 

Taking aim at the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration, Peña said that both the poverty rate – which has risen in recent months after last year's currency crisis – and the inflation rate were "as high" as when Cambiemos took office in December, 2015.

"Nominal inflation is still equal in proportion to what we had when we arrived," he said, seated inside the Chamber of Deputies. 

After Victory Front (FpV) lawmaker Victoria Gabriela Cerruti, severely criticised the government for the rise in Argentina's poverty rate, Peña responded that he "did not believe the outrage."

"You know that poverty was not built by this government, because when you were in government you did not resolve this issue ... you left structural poverty [behind]," said the Cabinet chief. 

Pushed again by Cerruti, who claimed everyone knew that Cambiemos would lose October's presidential vote, Peña expressed confidence that President Mauricio Macri would win re-election.

"I do not know if it's a forecast or a wish of yours, [but] I do not think we're going to leave in December," he said. "I do not think the Argentines want to go back, I think the Argentines are going to support the change."

- TIMES/NA

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