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The Curse Of INDEC? Technical Director Was Fired Over Consumer Price Index

By | [email protected] | February 16, 2016 12:05pm

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Proof positive that the country’s national statistics institute is cursed, or just the latest development in the institute’s murky history?

Yesterday, Graciela Bevacqua was fired from her position as Technical Director (leading official of a company or institution based on their relevant expertise in their field) at the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INDEC), allegedly for insisting a consumer price index (IPC) couldn’t be ready for another eight months while INDEC management expected it to be rolled out within two months.

INDEC has been under fire since 2007 when inflation statistics plunged overnight following the dismissal of several key authorities. Basically, it has long been criticized for presenting less-than-accurate figures on inflation, poverty and the economy at large. So shortly after President Mauricio Macri took office, the government declared a statistics emergency in December 2015 and set the “normalization” of INDEC’s numbers as a prime objective. It also stopped publishing the inflation rate until further notice, so this early crisis does not bode well for the planned normalization.

Bevacqua had announced the eight month timeline in a press conference on January 14th, saying that there isn’t enough credible data to create the IPC in a more immediate timeline:

“I have been preparing the adequate infrastructure to create an IPC from scratch that wouldn’t disguise problems but that would be strictly technical and credible.”

The head of INDEC, Jorge Todesca, justified removing Bevacqua, saying: “I thank her for the time that she was here, but she did not share our sense of urgency.”

As for Bevacqua’s timeline for the IPC, Todesca asserted that she “made a unilateral announcement without consulting me […] We have to get results in a specific time frame. We want to give the people a true picture of what Argentina is right now [and] INDEC’s calendar is lagging behind.”

Bevacqua, on the other hand, stated that:

“There did not seem to be a difference [of opinion] with the government […] I don’t know what made them change their mind, maybe the collective bargaining season made them realize that they needed everything by yesterday and then fired me for not creating the IPC quickly.”

The inflation rate has been a sticking point in this year’s collective bargaining season, which is the time of year the government and major unions negotiate salary increases. The government wants to keep salary increases at 25 percent (which is what it says is the rate of inflation) while unions argue for a 40 percent increase. The IPC is set to monitor inflation, which is why Bevacqua believes that collective bargaining may have affected the projected timeline. For more on collective bargaining, check out this article by The Bubble.

This isn’t the first time that Bevacqua has been asked to leave INDEC: former Secretary of Domestic Trade Guillermo Moreno also had her removed as director of IPCs  in 2007. Many media outlets attribute the “downfall” and loss of credibility of the INDEC to Moreno’s decision to intervene in the statistics bureau that year. Some saw Bevacqua’s appointment as a symbolic return to the days before the INDEC was a source of scandal and a new start for the statistics bureau to reenter the realm of credibility smoothly.

Don’t remember who Moreno is? Check out this article by The Bubble for more background.

Bevacqua will be replaced by Fernando Cerro, who was the Director of National Accounts from 1999 to 2008.