Fears over Argentina’s runaway price increases have been stoked once again after a new report estimated that inflation totalled 6.8 percent in March.
The increase was driven by a surge in food prices, which rose nine percent last month, according to a survey by the UMET metropolitan university.
"Inflation for workers soared to 6.8 percent in March. This is a figure not seen since the devaluation jump of August 2018," read the institution’s ‘Statistical Index of Workers’ report.
According to UMET, inflation totals 16.1 percent for the first quarter of the year. During that same period, food and drink prices are up 22.8 percent, it warned.
Drilling down further, the report said that the surge in prices was “particularly driven by breads and cereals, which increased 20.4 percent in one month and by 95.4 percent over the last 12 months.
The second largest increase was seen in meats, up 8.5 percent, with chicken prices leading the way (up 16.5 percent). Dairy products rose more than eight percent, along with sweets and confectionery and fish.
Ex-education minister Nicolás Trotta, who serves as rector of UMET, said on Twitter that inflation "is having a more severe impact on citizens with lower incomes."
The INDEC national statistics bureau will release figures from its official inflation index for March next Wednesday.
Guzmán v Feletti
Tensions in the ruling Frente de Todos coalition are on the rise, with inflation a real cause for concern. Domestic Trade Secretary Roberto Feletti on Thursday called on Economy Minister Martín Guzmán to do more to tackle runaway price increases.
"It is clear that we can’t perform miracles,” said Feletti, returning to a regular line he has trotted out amid criticism over price hikes.
“The reference prices have improved, but it is insufficient," he stressed in an interview with Radio Con Vos.
Warning that March’s inflation data is going to “be high,” he said inflation “is the responsibility of the economy minister,” while calling on Guzmán to draw “clear lines on policy that reduce volatility and preserve popular income.”
“If not, this is going to get ugly," he warned, calling for greater “macroeconomic” measures.
Speaking from Brazil, Guzmán said Friday that "inflation is a priority in economic policy" and vowed to do more to tackle price hikes.
Addressing Brazilian business leaders and politicians, Guzmán said that tackling inflation "is very important for macroeconomic stability and exchange rate stability.”