Here are some of the main sections of the interview:
– Télam: On January 7 the validity of the basket of frozen prices ends, how do you evaluate the operation of the measure?
– Roberto Feletti: We have a really positive evaluation, both in the fulfillment of the supply that is at 80% and in the fulfillment of prices that is above 90% in the metropolitan area; These data arise from weekly reviews that we carry out with our survey team, of inspectors, in the metropolitan area where we take between 200 and 250 stores of the large commercialization chains.
In other localities of the country, the interior of the province of Buenos Aires is with a compliance of 75% and in the provinces, even those furthest from the Pampa Húmeda, the large chains have very good compliance, the regional chains also.
We have difficulties with local businesses, there the program does have difficulties because the margins they need are very high and there would be a distortion of the program.
Today, shortly after completion, we believe that the program fulfilled its objective, which is to ensure a basket that has to do with the consumption of the average Argentine, stabilize prices; at least the INDEC index for November was significantly lower in food than that of October, despite the influence of meat.
– T: How is the “regulated basket” that will be implemented after the freeze?
– RF: Since December 13, we have been talking with all the companies about an agreed exit, an agreement for one year with quarterly reviews and monthly corrections, which ensures this floor of 1,300 regulated products, which operates as an anchor in the rest of the prices and also as a possibility of reconciling workers’ income policy with average diversified consumption.
We are trying to sustain the number of products that make up the last corrected resolution, it will be in order of 1,350 to 1,400 products; quality is going to be maintained, some products are going to change at the request of the companies, because they are discontinued; we are in negotiation that is bilateral, point to point to finish polishing.
The freeze pushed back prices, although we are willing to recognize some degree of recomposition of that moment, we with the sworn statements made by supermarkets built a mirror basket of 1,700 free products, where what we are telling you is that they made cross-profitability. It is true that in this line of products they had a stable price, but in the free basket they moved it, so let’s offset the profitability.
Today I am moderately optimistic that we are going to reach the agreement and we are going to support over 1,300 diverse and extensive products, where large companies and brands will be to ensure average consumption.
– T: In that mirror basket, what order of increases did they register?
– RF: In the mirror basket, we saw an average increase of 5.5% in 60 days, compared to zero in the regulated basket. So, as there is cross-profitability, we are proposing that we compensate for this profitability in January and not start with very high prices. There is understanding of the companies, there are pulls as there must be in any negotiation, but I would like to remain optimistic. We have the forecast on Monday to have the first draft closed.
The expectation is that (the increase) will be as little as possible, although we are aware that in some cases there are distortions and we are willing to correct them.
– T: How will the implementation of the regulated basket in local businesses be so that they can participate in the program?
– RF: We are waiting to close the basket with producers before moving forward with marketers. We will have to set a differential price by trade size and there we are going to demand that they comply with it. We know that a smaller store needs a higher price, we are working to see what that margin is, we are willing to accept it, but if we reach this agreement we want them to put the signage and the products have the price we expect.
That is the second part of the work, now we want to talk with the producers and then with the marketers, and there we will incorporate the differential for local businesses.
– T: Did the share of Precious Care products grow in Argentine purchases? Do they work for reference?
– RF: According to the statistics we have from private estimates and from the commercialization chains themselves, there is an average increase of 6% in the last two months. There is a 6% increase in sales that has to do with this basket of 1,335 products. It is demanded and we can even see as positive that many chains, some girls, of proximity, Dia case, have put a lot of signs of Care Prices as a way of propaganda and to bring consumers closer to their stores.
One of the price policy objectives that the Secretariat has had since we arrived was to consolidate a broad, consolidated basket + Prices Cared for that ensures average consumption, so now we are going to agree but that continues to be in force and continues to have a presence .
– T: In the case of bread, an agreement was reached to maintain prices until the end of the year, how does it continue in January?
– RF: One of the points that will enter into the discussion of trusts is the 25-kilo bag of flour, the industrial flour that is used to make bread and counter that the price of kilo of bread agreed in exchange for that bag at a regulated price. One of the objectives of the trust that we are working with Agriculture is to regulate the price of the bag of flour, and on that to guarantee that those mills that receive the bag at a regulated price transfer it to the bakeries and the bakeries can make the kilo of bread at regulated price.
– T: The freeze in drug prices, what results did it give? How does it continue?
– RF: In the INDEC index there was a significant drop in the average of the health index, it fell from 4.7% in October to 2.4% in November, that is, the program worked and well, what is dragging down is the agreement of medications, among other things. Now we have a pending meeting with Health to see the exit from January 7.
– T: How is the implementation of the Gondolas Law progressing?
– RF: We got a resolution these days to improve inspection, it is a task that we have to deal with in discussion with SMEs; many SMEs want to enter the program because it is a way to get on the gondola. We have two things to ensure: the display of the SME’s product and payment. The products of SMEs that enter the program will have to have a payment regime very different from the 60 or 90 days that they usually pay.