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ISI Responses to the Methodological Concerns

The ISI has received several representations from members, including members of the ISI family in Argentina, about government interference in the methodology for the Argentine CPI. The concern is that the index methodology has been manipulated to provide a CPI that was lower than what it should be given the actual movements of consumer prices.

The issue is well known. It has been raised with international organisations like the IMF and ILO. It was discussed at the High Level Forum on the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics in New York in February 2011. It is also known among financial market participants who no doubt take this into account when assessing the risks associated with Argentine investments such as government bonds.

More recently, another issue has been raised in this connection. The Argentine Government has applied legislation which prevents others from publishing alternative views of official statistics. At the same time, statisticians and organizations working on alternative price measurements have been threatened with sanctions.

At the occasion of the ISI World Statistics Congress in August 2011 in Dublin, Ireland, the ISI Council was informed about the letter dated 11 August 2011 by the American Statistical Association to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The ISI Council decided to support the letter by ASA. The supporting letter of the President of ISI to the UN Special Rapporteur dated 29 September 2011 can be found here. The Statement dated 29 September 2011 by the ISI about the situation with the Argentine CPI and our colleague statisticians in Argentina can be found here.

The ISI had already undertaken several actions: In December 2009, the ISI President wrote a letter of concern and support to the President of the Statistical Society of Argentina. A recent initiative was for the ISI President to write to the ILO Director of Statistics. The ILO is responsible for international standards associated with the CPI and publishes internationally comparable CPI statistics. The letter proposed that the ILO modify the documentation associated with the Argentine CPI to reflect the actual methods that are currently being used. The current documentation would mislead users of these statistics. A copy of these letters is shown here and here.