Production Minister Matías Kulfas hailed Argentina’s business community on Wednesday, thanking them for their “efforts” in supporting the government’s newly re-launched Precios Cuidados price-controls scheme.
"I am very grateful for the effort that the businesspeople made. We had a fruitful dialogue," the national official told a local radio station, hailing the "substantial modifications" made to the scheme.
On Tuesday, the government re-launched Precios Cuidados with a list of 310 items, which included "leading brand" products "at reasonable prices."
On average, prices for items on the list will drop by eight percent, officials said at a press conference on Tuesday, confirming that the scheme would initially last a year, with a quarterly review of prices and items on the list.
In the interview, Kulfas said that the list of items “represented the needs of families” in Argentina.
"The idea is to inject 10 billion pesos into families, with retirement bonuses and salary increases. This effort would be nowhere if prices were not factored in," he argued.
Precios Cuidados was first launched on January 1, 2014, under the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration in a bid to tamp down inflation. Despite many members of the Mauricio Macri government being fierce critics of the scheme, the Cambiemos leader re-introduced price controls toward the end of his term in office, as Argentina’s economic crisis weakened.
Alberto Fernández’s government has retained 70 items from the Macri-era version of Precious Cuidados, adding another 240 products. Only two of the 310 items will not be locally produced, tuna and sunscreen, which are both imported into Argentina.
They will be available at 2,278 stores across the country run by 20 supermarket chains (Coto, Carrefour, Changomas, Cooperativa Obrera, Cordiez, Día, Disco, El Nene, Josimar, Jumbo, La Anónima, Libertad, Supermercados Todo, Toledo, See, Wal-Mart, La Gallega, Supermarket La Economía, El Túnel and Arco Iris, according to the government).
The government also intends to launch a Precios Cuidados app, enabling users to see where items can be found and to report incorrect prices or missing stock.
Responding to criticism regarding the list – criticism emerged this week online over the inclusion of items such as soft drinks and alcoholic beverages – Kulfas said the government sought to include “leading brands at reasonable prices,” reflecting “an average of what is the consumed in Argentine homes – and many households consume such products."
The Macri-era version of the scheme was “distorted,” he added, charging that it included “many non-essential products and many third[-rate] brands."
"We are not thinking of penalising consumption, we are thinking about taking care of prices,” he added.