Government measures to curb spiralling inflation in Argentina -- which stood at 335 per cent last year -- has caused a food shortage in many parts of the country.
CU Shopping basket of food ZOOM OUT TO SV people forming queue (4 shots)
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CU Food on sale on pavement PAN UP TO women buying food
SV People in queue
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CU & SV Choppers waiting to be served (2 shots)
GV People in market (2 shots)
SV Depleted stalls (3 shots)
SV Shoppers in market
GV EXT Delicatessen
CU Sausage meat on skewers in shop (2 shots)
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Initials BB/1539 AMN/DK/BB/1725
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Background: Government measures to curb spiralling inflation in Argentina -- which stood at 335 per cent last year -- has caused a food shortage in many parts of the country.
Hundreds of people have to queue in the capital Buenos Aires daily for food supplies. Even the price of essential food items is growing out of reach.
A week ago the government of President Maria Estela Peron announced an overall wage increase of 12 per cent, later increased to 20 per cent after strikes and demonstrations by workers.
However, that increase was negated by a 19.2 increase in the cost of living for the month of February alone. The annual inflation rate, now unofficially standing at around 400 per cent a year -- the second highest in the world after Chile -- is predicted to reach 600 per cent by the end of this year.
In the middle of the crisis the government ordered a six-month truce in wages and incomes after granting the small wage increase and set maximum prices for basic foodstuffs. The government plan also called for increases of up to 100 per cent in the prices of gas, electricity, rail fares and many consumer goods.
Shopkeepers soon found out that wholesalers and middlemen were charging more for the essential foodstuffs than they were allowed to retail by government order.
The result has been an acute shortage of food and a thriving black market for people prepared to pay a higher price for the food they want.
SYNOPSIS: Argentina, where the government's latest bid to curb inflation has led to widespread food shortages. Here in the capital Buenos Aires, people queue for hours just to buy the essential food they need to survive.
The average family in Argentina has difficulty in budgeting these days. The unofficial inflation rate is running at 400 per cent for the moment. That's second highest in the world behind Chile. The government is making efforts to curb wages and prices but the latest move has turned out to be more of a gesture than anything else.
President Maria Peron's government awarded workers a 20 per cent rise about a week ago. But the increase in the cost of living for the month of February alone almost completely swallowed the pay rise. Now economists are predicting Argentina's inflation rate could reach 600 per cent by the end of the year.
For the more unscrupulous the food shortage paved the way for huge profits. A black market trade in food is flourishing. Retailers cannot even buy basic foodstuffs for the maximum prices the government has set with wholesalers and middlemen charging more than the limit.