BUENOS AIRES, March 26 Argentina's government
forged an agreement on Tuesday with top retailers to extend a
freeze on prices for another two months, the latest attempt to
contain inflation estimated by private economists at above 20
percent a year.
The price accords first went into effect for 60 days in
early February, after the government reported January inflation
at a nearly three-year high. The country's deputy secretary for
consumer defense confirmed they will now last until late May.
President Cristina Fernandez's center-left government spends
heavily to stoke domestic demand and economic growth, fanning
inflation. But while the economic expansion slowed sharply last
year, prices continued to rise swiftly.
Argentina's inflation data has been widely discredited since
2007 and the International Monetary Fund has warned it could
sanction the country over its statistics.
The government reported 10.8 percent consumer inflation in
2012 versus private estimates that hovered closer to 25 percent
- one of the highest rates in the world.
The price accords were signed by local supermarkets such as
Coto and La Anonima as well as foreign-owned stores including
Jumbo, Carrefour and Wal-Mart.
Supermarket sources said previously that the price-freeze
accords could be extended until October mid-term elections,
which will test Fernandez's popularity. Opinion polls show that
high inflation is among Argentines' top concerns.