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ECONOMY | 20-10-2022 23:32

Argentina offers food bonus to destitute as price crisis bites

Sergio Massa, Fernanda Raverta confirm adults without income will be eligible for 45,000-peso bonus to help meet nutritional needs amid deepening inflation crisis.

Argentina’s government has announced an emergency bonus payment for the destitute, with those living in extreme poverty suffering the hardest from runaway inflation and soaring food prices.

Speaking on Thursday, Economy Minister Sergio Massa and ANSES social security agency chief Fernanda Raverta confirmed that the emergency ‘Refuerzo Alimentario para Adultos sin Ingresos’ (“Food Booster for Adults without Income”) payment would be worth a total of 45,000 pesos, made up of two payments of 22,500 pesos.

Enrolment must be made in-person and can be done without an appointment at ANSES offices starting next Monday (October 24), at all offices of the social security agency throughout the country.

The first instalment will be paid on November 14, with the second following in December, said government officials. It will apply to all individuals aged between 18 and 64 years who do not receive any form of income, state assistance or having registered assets.

The programme is aimed at the most vulnerable people in the country and those who do not receive any help or subsidy from the state. It is a similar scheme to the Emergency Family Income (IFE) benefit payment that was paid to low-earners during the Covid-19 pandemic. That reached as many as two million people, according to the government.

The resources required for this new payment will be taken from the funds brought in from the so-called ‘Dólar Soja’ scheme, in which agricultural producers were granted a favourable exchange rate in order to sell grains and bring in dollars. 

Announcement of the new bonus welfare payment had been trailed by Massa himself last weekend and by President Alberto Fernández last Monday at an event in Cañuelas. 

"I am aware that some people are having a hard time, we are working with Sergio to lower the inflation that is eating away at them," said the Peronist leader, vowing to support those heavily affected by runaway inflation, which experts believe will surpass 100 percent this calendar year.

Following a Thursday meeting with Raverta to drill down into the details, Massa said that the bonus would not reach anyone with a registered job, nor those who receive any type of benefit from the state such as Universal Child Allowance, Student Allowance or Family Allowance. They must also not receive social plans or unemployment, retirement or pension payments.


Price of food soars

News of the new scheme comes just days after official data from the INDEC national statistics bureau revealed that the price of the basic food basket in Argentina hit 59,931 pesos in September – a year-on-year increase of 89 percent, six points more than total inflation over the past 12 months (83 percent). The figure underlines the impact of soaring price hikes on the lower classes, which are more heavily affected than the middle and upper classes.

The basic food basket consists of the set of basic food items needed to feed a family for a month. It corresponds to a group composed of a married couple and two young children.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages recorded a rise of 6.7 percent in September alone. In response, the government is also looking to extend and deepen the price-control programmes it has in place. The Frente de Todos administration wants to lock down at least 1,000 products for the next 90 days under a new scheme it calls ‘Precio Justo,’ or “Fair Price.”

Argentina's annual inflation surged to a new 30-year high in September as policy makers struggle to tame some of the world's fastest consumer price increases.

Consumer prices rose 83 percent from a year ago, according to government data. Inflation reached 6.2 percent for the month, according to official data. Since the turn of the year, prices have increased by 66.1 percent – one of the worst figures in the world.



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