Argentina’s poverty rate in the first quarter of the year will rise to around 45 percent of the population as a result of the nationwide shutdown, according to an estimate from the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA).
Agustín Salvia, the director of UCA’s influential Social Debt Observatory, said that poverty will have risen by five or six points from the 38 percent registered at the end of 2019, in the wake of the government-imposed lockdown to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
"We will be at 45 percent poverty," Salvia told Futurock radio, saying that the pandemic’s impact would be “obvious” to everyone.
According to an estimate from the International Monetary Fund, Argentina’s gross domestic product will contract by more than five percent this year, given the halt in economic activity.
The Observatory’s estimates of the number of poor in Argentina are normally slightly higher than official government data, though it measures poverty differently. It gained a reputation as a benchmark during the Kirchnerite administrations, when the INDEC national statistics bureau's statistics became unreliable, due to government intervention.
Earlier this month, official data recorded by INDEC from the end of the Mauricio Macri presidency said that the PRO leader had left office at the end of 2019, before the Covid-19 outbreak, with a poverty rate of 35.5 percent, two and a half points lower than
Salvia warned that "the impact that this [shutdown] produces is a shock to employment and work that lowers weekly earnings," adding that social assistance packages prepared by the government would only “partially” compensate for lost earnings, but they wouldn’t “mitigate the situation.”
"This issue was not resolved in these first months of Alberto Fernández's government. We had a 38-percent floor in December – it is to be expected that the March shock has increased poverty by five or six points,” he declared.