Fears over runaway price hikes were confirmed on Wednesday as the INDEC national statistics bureau revealed that inflation hit 6.7 percent in March – the highest official monthly rate in close to six years.
The INDEC data means that prices have risen by 55.1 percent over the last 12 months and by more than 16 percent in just the first quarter of the year.
March’s price hikes, which were exacerbated by an international rise in food and energy prices as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, were led by a 23.6 percent rise in education that coincided with the start of the school year.
Clothing was up 10 percent, while housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels rose 7.7 percent. Despite government-imposed price controls, food and non-alcoholic beverages were up 7.2 percent. Core inflation, which ignores regulated and seasonal prices, reached 6.4 percent.
Argentina has long struggled with an inflation rate that ranks among the highest in the world and March's data – the highest since the 6.6 percent registered in September 2018 – casts a further shadow over the Alberto Fernández administration's grip on the economy.
Prices had already risen by 3.9 percent in January and by 4.7 percent in February, with the government’s projected annual target of between 38 and 48 percent now seriously in doubt.
The Central Bank’s most recent monthly market expectations survey forecast a rate of 59.2 percent this calendar year, with some private estimates now predicting that inflation could surpass 60 percent.
Speaking on Tuesday, prior to the release of official data, Economy Minister Martín Guzmán admitted that inflation for last month would clear six percent and called for united “political support” to tamp down price hikes.
"Inflation is attacked with macroeconomic policy and two things are needed here: one is an economic programme, which we already have. But, on the other hand, you need political support, because the economy does not function in a vacuum. If politics is in disarray, it is much more difficult to achieve anything," he told the C5N news channel.