Hours before the official inflation figure for January was known, the Government
was already making preparations to absorb the "bad data"
This was recognized by the Minister of Economy, Sergio Massa, when he announced
a new price cap on the 7 most popular cuts of meat
, in agreement with refrigerators, supermarkets and butcher shops, which became part of the expanded version of Fair Prices.
Evidence aside about its ineffectiveness, in the Secretary of Commerce, led by Matías Tombolini,
they evaluate as "very positive" the results of the new anti-inflationary scheme
, which includes a basket of almost 2,000 articles of mass consumption with prices frozen until the end of June.
And a maximum increase of 3.2% per month for another 50,000 products of varied items, such as footwear, cell phones, textiles and even inputs for production.
This Monday afternoon, in a meeting with supermarkets and wholesalers, Tombolini reviewed the increases ("Fair Price inflation") in the sensitive segment of food, beverages, toiletries and cleaning.
On a report prepared with a state-of-the-art computer system
and based on 15 million pieces of data,
he was satisfied with the figures on the shelf and also with the level of stock.
In November, the total "regulated" basket provided by the 108 suppliers that signed the Fair Prices agreement increased 4.2%, when the maximum guideline was 4%.
But it gave below the cost of living for the month: 4.9%
In December, the percentage fell to 3.5% (against 5.1% of the CPI) and for January Commerce projects a rise of 4.5%.
In that office they optimistically predict a new drop for February (around 3.8%) due to the impact of the 3.2% ceiling established for the next 5 months, a period that runs until the end of June.
"The percentage was above the guideline due to the exceptions stipulated for certain products" (increases of between 4 and 9%), which were authorized to guarantee the assembly of a new
basket of 1,974 frozen products
, which came into effect at the beginning of month.
Close to Tombolini they believe that in this way,
with sectoral agreements with more than 600 companies in 17 categories
, they will mark a "price path" to establish references in almost all categories with
the aim of curbing the escalation of inflation.
Private consultants had already been anticipating a comeback for January of around 6%, despite the multiplication of controls agreed upon by companies in exchange for delivering official dollars (the cheapest on the market) so that they can import.
Inflation is overheating, according to the official point of view,
not because the controls fail
but because of the seasonal rises in fresh products, such as meat.
They explain that this basket, made up of vegetables, fruits and legumes, is provided by a universe of producers that is as fragmented as it is difficult to control.
The same thing could be verified by the ex-secretary of Commerce Roberto Feletti, a Christian fanatic of controls, when he promoted a very small basket of fruits and vegetables, which did not move the ammeter.
In Tombolini's office they are not discouraged.
They maintain that in February, due to the increasing influence of Fair Prices, the price index
"will be lower than in January"
although they stress that the month "started off difficult."
There they maintain that the majority of the companies are convinced of integrating the program and that this, in the long run, will improve the level of supply of products and also compliance with the price guideline established until mid-year.
Meat: they freeze the price of 7 popular cuts and there will be discounts in butcher shops