Argentina 2016 inflation seen at 40 percent to 42 percent: finance minister

A customer buys meat at a butcher's shop in Buenos Aires July 31, 2014. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Argentina will probably have inflation of 40 percent to 42 percent this year, Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay said in an address to investors in New York on Friday.

Prat-Gay was appointed by President Mauricio Macri, a free-markets proponent who was inaugurated in December and quickly started dismantling economic controls favored by his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez.

Her policies sparked double-digit inflation, which was propelled higher when Macri allowed the peso ARS=RASL to devalue by 30 percent by lifting currency controls. His task is to lower inflation while stimulating Argentina's stagnant economy.

Consumer prices rose 4.2 percent in May and are expected to rise 2 percent to 2.5 percent in June, Prat-Gay said.

May was the first month for which official inflation data were published since Macri took office. He shut down the publication of economic numbers while his team reorganized the government’s Indec statistics agency after years of publishing data widely dismissed by the markets as inaccurate.

Indec has not published inflation numbers for full year 2015.

Prat-Gay said the upset caused by Brexit, Britain’s vote to exit from the European Union, on Thursday came at a time of increasing stability in Argentina.

“It seems to us that (Brexit) this is more an issue of distortions or disruptions around the developed world than it is in our region, or in particular Argentina,” Prat-Gay said.

“We don’t want to get too carried away in saying that Argentina is a beacon of stability, but that is probably one way of looking at it,” he added.

Reporting by Dion Rabouin; Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Phil Berlowitz