A day after announcing it will lift tariffs on food imports, the government carried out a surprise operation on the central market check alleged “price distortions”. Yesterday morning, around 8, the officials of the three AFIP Agencies (Customs, DGI and Social Security) They checked documents and invoices from 10 operating companies looking for suspected irregularities.
According to eyewitnesses, the operation started around 8 in the morning, lasted just 1 hour and the inspectors withdrew without leaving a trace of their actions. Despite this and without specifying whether infringements have been committed, the Government explained that “a census of fruit and vegetables of foreign origin was carried out in all the pavilions and warehouses of the Central Market”. In parallel, particular emphasis was given to the dissemination of photos and videos of the procedure.
The official justification is that there are importers who “access the official dollar and set prices in blue”, which fuels the inflationary escalation of recent weeks. In April, the cost of living rose by 8.4%, thanks to the increase in seasonal products (12.8%) and in the food and beverage category, which stood at 10.8%.
Faced with this, the Minister of Economy, Sergio Massa, announced this weekend a package of measures to stop rediallingBetween them the possibility of importing foodstuffs at zero interest rate to counter the increases in fruit, vegetables and greens, the heart of the so-called fresh products.
At the Central Market they warn that the “pompous” operation of the AFIP was more modest. “They went directly to pavilion 9 (out of a total of 12) and made requirements in 10 well-known import companies“, he confided clarion an operator. He also said that the inspectors arrived with 6 trucks, spent about 20 minutes at each station and then left without writing reports or saying anything.
A customs inspector said “a check was made at the place of the goods of foreign origin, in order to verify the legal title of placing it on the marketAnd he added that the procedure was carried out “in the context of article 123 of the customs code”, an infringement which refers to the practice of smuggling. the government has not communicated the results of the operation.
The main fresh product imported is bananas.which represents 30% of the total fruit consumption in the country. They calculate that it consumes between 300 and 400 million dollars a year and comes mainly from Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil. To a lesser extent, avocados, pineapples and kiwis also come from abroad, and are mostly offered in bulk.
The surveillance operation “caused surprise and a lot of discomfort”, said an operator of the main fruit and vegetable collection center in the country. The source believes that the government blames them for the inflationary acceleration of recent months, “when most products, except tomatoes (64% in April) and oranges (nearly 20%) it had no increases or decreases from the previous weeks“.
The Central Market was inaugurated in 1984 by Raúl Alfonsín. Today handles 1.8 million tons of fruit and vegetables per year in a country that consumes about 5 million people. It is a 500-hectare property, where the mega-fresh fair (12 pavilions with 54 stalls each; and 6 intermediate free beaches, with 30 shops) coexist with the warehouses and distribution centers belonging to the Mercado Libre, Coca Cola and Quilmes, among other companies.
Charles Arterburn is a seasoned business journalist for News Rebeat, where he provides comprehensive coverage of the latest trends and developments in the world of finance and economics.