Argentine Annual Inflation Slowed in May to 10.3%, Agency Says

Argentine consumer prices rose 10.3 percent in May from a year earlier, the slowest pace since October, the national statistics agency reported.

Prices rose 0.7 percent from April, less than half the 1.6 percent reported by opposition lawmakers, who yesterday released estimates by private economists.

The accuracy of the institute’s data has been questioned by independent economists since President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s late husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, changed agency personnel in early 2007. Since 2011, lawmakers have released private estimates without naming the economists, who are subject to government fines if they report data that differs from official statistics.

Supermarket chains including Carrefour SA, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Chile’s Cencosud SA agreed with the government to freeze prices of 500 goods beginning in June. The list of goods ranges from cooking oil, sodas, cereals, hair removal wax and beer. Fernandez ordered officials and supporters to monitor stores to ensure the accord is honored.

“These military-like attempts to control prices will fail if the government doesn’t take measures to fight inflation,” opposition lawmaker Eduardo Amadeo said yesterday, when the private inflation estimate was released. “The government should take care of the economy and forget these controls.”

In February, Argentina became the first member of the International Monetary Fund to be censured by the lender for not providing accurate data. Fernandez pledged to release a new index that will reflect current consumption habits by the end of the year.