Mexico Spends $28 Billion in Subsidies to Tame Inflation Spike

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Mexico’s programs and subsidies to tame inflation will cost the country almost 575 billion pesos ($28 billion) this year as the government tries to cap inflation that has spiked to the highest in over 21 years, Bloomberg News reported. Finance Minister Rogelio Ramirez de la O said Tuesday that the wide-ranging government programs used to contain price gains include gasoline and residential electricity subsidies for a total of 503 billion pesos on top of fertilizer handouts, measures to guarantee food supply and freezing highway tolls. Without the subsidies and handouts, inflation in Mexico would be 2.6 percentage points higher than the current rate of about 8%, he said at a press briefing in Mexico City. The fiscally austere government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, which had refused to implement stimulus measures earlier in the pandemic, has in recent months moved aggressively to announce price caps and handouts as inflation reaches the highest since 2001, hurting poor Mexicans. The cornerstone of that strategy has been massive energy subsidies and a deal with leading companies to temporarily cap prices on 24 food and other basic products announced in May. The gasoline subsidies are financed by higher revenue from crude oil exports, the government has said. “We have guaranteed that there was control in price increases because we, fortunately, took decisions on time,” Lopez Obrador said at the same briefing. “It was smart to put into place a subsidy so that gasoline prices wouldn’t go up.” Read more.