Argentina inflation tops 100% for first time since 1991

People struggle to pay high prices for necessities in country with one of the highest inflation rates

A customer pays for pork in a local market, after Argentina's annual inflation rate skyrocketed past 100 per cent in February. Reuters
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Argentina's annual inflation rate tore past 100 per cent in February, the country's statistics agency said on Tuesday — the first time it has hit triple figures since a period of hyperinflation in 1991, more than three decades ago.

Inflation over 12 months clocked in at 102.5 per cent in the second month of the year, government data showed, with a higher-than-expected 6.6 per cent monthly rise in the Consumer Price Index, and a 13 per cent year-to-date increase.

In Argentina's markets, shops and homes, the impact of spiralling prices is being felt keenly as one of the highest inflation rates in the world stretches people's wallets.

“There's just nothing left — there's no money, people don't have anything, so how do they buy?” asked retiree Irene Devita, as she checked grocery price tags in a market in San Fernando on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

With inflation so high, prices change almost weekly.

“The other day, I came and asked for three tangerines, two oranges, two bananas and half a kilo of tomatoes. When he told me it cost 650 pesos [$3.22], I told him take everything out and leave just the tomatoes because I don't have enough money,” Ms Devita said.

The government has tried in vain to tame the rising prices, which dent people's earning power, savings, the country's economic growth and the ruling party's chances of clinging to power in crunch elections later this year.

On the streets, inflation is all many people can talk about. It seeds frustration and anger as salaries often fall behind the cost of goods despite government programmes to cap prices and limit grains exports to boost domestic supply.

Patricia Quiroga said 100 per cent inflation was impossible to bear as she queued to do her shopping.

“I am tired, tired, just tired of all this, of the politicians who fight while the people die of hunger,” she told Reuters. “This can't go on any more.”

Updated: March 14, 2023, 10:56 PM