Argentina vows to publish ‘pure’ economic data

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BUENOS AIRES: Argentina’s new pro-business government said on Thursday (Friday in Manila) it hoped to begin publishing “pure” and accurate economic data this year after its leftist predecessors were accused of manipulating economic figures.

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The head of the INDEC national statistics institute, Graciela Bevacqua, said the body hoped to relaunch publication of economic growth data within the first six months of 2016.

But she warned it would take longer than that to fix the system for accurately calculating inflation and poverty.

Those are two politically sensitive measures that ex-president Cristina Kirchner was accused of masking.

Bevacqua said it could be eight months before inflation data could be published, though “work is being done to do it sooner.”

She said the simplest data to compile were the foreign trade balance figures, which would be ready in February.

“It is better to have no indicator at all than to have a false indicator,” Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay told a news conference.

“The aim is for the indicators to be as pure as possible.”

He said he estimated the Argentine economy—Latin America’s third biggest—would start to recover in the second half of this year.

He forecast it would grow by “about 0.5 to 1.0 percent” overall in 2016 and an average of 4.5 percent over the following three years.

The International Monetary Fund in 2013 censured the figures published by Kirchner’s administration, which differed wildly from the estimates of private economists.

Kirchner championed populist social welfare programs and protectionist policies that earned her the love of many Argentines but the mistrust of businesses and investors.

Alfonso Prat-Gay on Tuesday estimated inflation last year hit about 30 percent and the public deficit about 6 percent of gross domestic product.

Since taking office a month ago, President Mauricio Macri has pushed through a series of economically liberal reforms to reverse Kirchner’s policies.

AFP

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