May 2, 2017 / 11:19 PM / a year ago

Argentina to publish national inflation index starting in July

May 2 (Reuters) - Argentina will begin publishing a countrywide consumer price index in July, government statistics agency Indec said on Tuesday, the latest step in its efforts to restore trust after allegations of data manipulation under the prior administration.

The inflation index will cover all 23 Argentine provinces and the autonomous city of Buenos Aires, and will break out inflation levels in six regions, Indec said in a statement. The first report will be published on July 11, and the agency will give details on its methodology on May 18.

After taking office in December 2015, center-right President Mauricio Macri ordered an overhaul of Indec, which was widely accused of publishing unrealistically low inflation data under his predecessor, populist President Cristina Fernandez.

That was seen as key to Macri’s efforts to tame rampant inflation, attract investment and restore growth. Indec director Jorge Todesca, who was threatened with fines by the prior government for publishing his own inflation data, fired 30 of 40 section directors in his first two months as part of the revamp.

In June, the agency began publishing inflation data for the greater Buenos Aires area, which the central bank has used as a benchmark for its monetary policy. The central bank is targeting inflation between 12 and 17 percent this year, though private economists see it exceeding 20 percent.

The International Monetary Fund recognized Argentina’s efforts to restore credibility to its official statistics when it lifted its censure of Indec last November. The censure had put Argentina at risk of official sanctions that could have barred it from accessing financing.

Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Leslie Adler

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