BUENOS AIRES, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Argentina’s much-maligned statistics office will take months to revamp and it is unclear when the first reliable data will be ready for publication, the office’s new director said on Monday, after an election brought to power a centre-right government.
New President Mauricio Macri wants to win back confidence in Latin America’s third-largest economy in order to increase much-needed investment. For years, data produced by the INDEC office has been broadly seen as inaccurate and politically motivated.
Consumer price data in particular has shown inflation about half the rate estimated privately. Critics said the government massaged the data to reduce payments on its inflation-indexed debt and rein in inflation expectations.
“It is incomprehensible that (the agency) was degraded to the extent it has,” said Jorge Todesca, new INDEC director. “The INDEC is riddled with false or biased information.”
The latest available official data reported annual inflation of 14.3 percent in October. Data published by lawmakers in Argentina’s Congress and compiled from private estimates put it at 25.01 percent.
Todesca said many INDEC officials had resigned in the wake of the election last month that brought conservative Macri to power, ending 12 years of leftist Peronist rule.
Staff hires in recent years had not been meritocratic, he said, which was another issue he would tackle. Some employees had been taken on for political reasons.
“We want to create a new INDEC,” he said, saying it would conduct economic studies based on its statistics, like it had done in the past. “(It) will have the character of an autonomous organism.”
“We hope that within three or four months we will have a finished project,” he said.
Todesca said he would endeavor in the coming days to give a time frame for when INDEC could once more produce reliable inflation data, once he had gone through the data bases.
The International Monetary Fund censured Argentina in 2013 for failing to improve its inflation and gross domestic product figures, putting the country at risk of official sanctions that could have barred it from voting on IMF policies and from accessing financing.
In June, it said the country had failed to take sufficient steps to bring the quality of its statistics in line with global standards. (Reporting by Sarah Marsh and Jorge Otaola; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)