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Argentines feel pain as inflation sizzles to 99%

A customer buys produce at a greengrocer’s shop in Buenos Aires, Argentina Feb. 14, 2023. — REUTERS

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s inflation rate has hit just shy of 100%, the government said on Tuesday, with savers feeling more pain from some of the world’s fastest rising prices and workers’ budgets straining as costs outstrip salaries.

The South American country, which has battled spiraling prices for years, saw monthly inflation speed up to 6% in January, in line with forecasts, while the annual figure hit 98.8%, the highest since hyperinflation in the 1990s.

Gisella Saluzzo, 30, a doctor in Buenos Aires, has had to tighten her belt.

“The truth is that I live day to day, I look for low prices, I go to markets. We look for where the meat is cheaper, the vegetables are cheaper, and hunt for online promotions to get by,” she told Reuters.

Rampant inflation has slammed the economy, forcing the central bank to hike interest rates to an eye-popping 75%. It has taken a big bite from the popularity of the center-left Peronist government of President Alberto Fernandez ahead of general elections in October. The conservative opposition now leads in the polls, as Argentines are fed up with inflation and many blame poor economic management and money printing by the government.

Brian Muliane, a 33-year-old chiropractor, said that between inflation and taxes his business struggled to survive.

“In our work, between paying for one thing and another, along with taxes, they’re drowning us,” he said. “There are many who can’t even work.”

Inflation ended 2022 at 95% and could still accelerate this year despite government measures to fight it. Many have been forced to change their shopping habits and cut back on luxuries.

“There are things that I’ve stopped buying because I say no, it is just impossible for it to increase like this,” said 50-year-old teacher Andrea Mendoza as she was out shopping. “So, I don’t buy some things, I change habits or buy offers.” — Reuters

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