Consumer prices jumped 6.6 percent in February, pushing Argentina’s annual inflation rate into the dreaded three digits for the first time in three decades.
Over the last 12 months prices have risen 102.5 percent, one of the highest rates in the world, according to new data published by the INDEC national statistics bureau on Tuesday.
Inflation has not surpassed 100 percent since 1991, when Argentina was in the grip of hyperinflation.
Hikes in February were led by a sharp 9.8 percent rise in food and beverages, particularly rises in meat and dairy products that affected citizens across the country. This was followed by steep increases for communications (7.8 percent) and hotels and restaurants (7.5 percent), the latter mostly driven by summer tourism.
Other notable increases were recorded in categories including health (5.3 percent), alcoholic beverages and tobacco (5.2 percent), transport (4.9 percent) and housing and utilities (4.8 percent).
The two categories with the lowest variations in February were clothing and footwear (3.9 percent) and education (3.2 percent).
The news is another blow for President Alberto Fernández’s government, which has struggled to tamper down inflation since taking office in December 2019.
Economy Minister Sergio Massa’s stated aim for this calendar year is 60 percent – a figure that now looks unachievable after the acceleration of prices over the past two months. The official previously stated that he hoped to lower inflation to a monthly rate of under four percent by April and has introduced a sweeping price-control scheme to aid the effort.
Despite those efforts, the February figure even outpaced the forecasts of analysts, who in the most recent Central Bank survey of market expectations predicted a rate of 6.1 percent. Economists consulted by Bloomberg had expected a rise of six percent.
Prices had risen six percent in January, lifting the annualised inflation rate to 98.8 percent.