Argentina says to raise child welfare benefits by 40 percent

miércoles 14 de mayo de 2014 18:51 GYT

BUENOS AIRES May 14 (Reuters) - Argentina will increase child welfare payments by 40 percent to $6.84 billion (55 billion pesos) a year for the country's poor, President Cristina Fernandez announced on Wednesday.

Jacking up state spending at a time of high inflation, the new policy will benefit 3.5 million children in what Fernandez called her effort at "wealth redistribution."

"We believe in the economic theory that to improve the quality of life of those who have the least and of the workers will improve the nation, its industries, its businesses, markets and its professionals," the two-term Peronist leader said in a public address.

Fernandez's fiscal policies are driving one of the world's highest inflation rates. Consumer prices in Latin America's No. 3 economy rose 1.8 percent in April, the government said earlier on Wednesday, after gaining 2.6 percent in March and more than 3 percent per month in both January and February.

Argentina revamped its consumer price index at the start of this year in a bid to win back the trust of financial markets after years of blatantly underreporting inflation.

But the new index has so far continued to clock inflation at rates below analysts' estimates. It has come under fire for failing to list the products measured and make clear how government-imposed supermarket price caps may be influencing data. (ID:nL1N0O01QU) (Reporting by Nicolas Misculin)