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ECONOMY | 13-10-2021 15:44

Argentina seeks pre-election price freeze on 900 household goods

Government aims to extend Precios Cuidados price control programme to approximately 900 household goods in its latest attempt to recover ground with voters.

Argentina's government aims to extend a price control programme to approximately 900 household goods in its latest attempt to recover ground with its voter base ahead of a midterm election next month.

The new Interior Commerce Secretary Roberto Feletti told business leaders at top food firms Wednesday in Buenos Aires that the government wanted companies to extend a programme that caps prices on certain goods, according to people with knowledge of the meeting who asked not to be named because the request isn’t public.

Argentina has a price control program known as Precios Cuidados, which currently has more than 700 products in supermarkets whose prices can marginally increase each quarter. 

The government aims for prices to be frozen on 900 items retroactive to October 1, according to an official. 

Price controls are a perennial policy used by governments from Argentina’s Peronist political movement as one of several unorthodox tools to try to cool inflation running at about 50 percent annually, hurting consumers’ income. President Alberto Fernández’s coalition is looking to recover support after a primary vote held in September indicated it will likely lose congress seats in midterm elections on Nov. 14.

Feletti spoke to about 100 business leaders and advocates Wednesday, including representatives from Danone SA, Nestle SA, Arcor SAIC and Molinos Rio de la Plata SA, according to a food industry official who attended. It wasn’t immediately clear which prices would be frozen or how many companies would accept the measure, according to two people who attended. 

The request comes a day before Argentina’s statistics agency publishes inflation data for September.

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by Patrick Gillespie & Jorgelina do Rosario, Bloomberg

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