Over 30% of Argentina’s people living in poverty

Government reveals ranks of impoverished swell to almost nine million of state’s citizens

Just over 6% of the population qualified as “indigent” in the second quarter of 2016. File photograph: Getty Images

Just over 6% of the population qualified as “indigent” in the second quarter of 2016. File photograph: Getty Images

 

Nearly one-third of Argentina’s population lives in poverty, the government said on Wednesday in the first official poverty data published in three years, underscoring the difficulty of reaching President Mauricio Macri’s stated “zero poverty” goal.

The ranks of the poor surveyed in Argentina totalled 8.8 million people, or 32.2 percent of the population in 31 urban areas surveyed. Just over 6 per cent of the population qualified as “indigent” in the second quarter of 2016, said statistics agency Indec.

Mr Macri has enacted a number of market-friendly changes since taking office in December, pleasing Wall Street but spurring inflation and adding to the growing numbers of poor.

Three-year gap

He also revamped government statistics agency Indec after widespread allegations of manipulation by former president Cristina Fernandez. The agency last published poverty data in October 2013 for the first half of 2013, when it said just 4.7 per cent of people lived in poverty.

In the absence of reliable government information, Mr Macri has cited poverty statistics from researchers at the Catholic University of Argentina. That data showed 32.6 per cent of Argentines lived in poverty as of April, up from 29 per cent in December 2015, as Mr Macri’s decisions to lift currency controls sent inflation soaring as high as 40 per cent.

The economy also remains mired in recession, with GDP shrinking 2.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2016.

– (Reuters)