BUENOS AIRES, May 15 — Inflation in economic crisis-hit Argentina slowed for a fourth successive month in April to 8.8 per cent, but still reached an astronomical 289.4 per cent year-on-year, the INDEC statistics agency said Tuesday.

The April rate was below 10 per cent for the first time in six months, said the INDEC.

The annual rate was the highest in 33 years.

In December, the month President Javier Milei took office, inflation leapt by 25.5 per cent, provoked by his devaluation of the peso by more than 50 per cent.

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Self-declared “anarcho-capitalist” Milei has vowed to halt Argentina’s economic decline and reduce the budget deficit to zero.

He has slashed public spending, cut the cabinet in half, did away with 50,000 public jobs, suspended new public works contracts and ripped away fuel and transport subsidies.

In April, Milei hailed the South American country’s first quarterly budget surplus since 2008.

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And on Tuesday, he celebrated that “we are crushing inflation.”

Critics say Milei’s few wins have come at the cost of the poor and working classes, and were unlikely to last.

Economic activity declined 3.2 per cent year-on-year in February, and in March, there was a 21 per cent annual slump in industrial manufacturing and a 42 per cent dip in construction.

Poverty levels are nearing 50 per cent, according to official data.

The International Monetary Fund expects that Argentina’s economy will contract by 2.8 per cent this year.

On Monday, it welcomed “faster-than-anticipated progress in restoring macroeconomic stability” in the South American country, but also warned of a “long and difficult road ahead.”

Last week, Argentina introduced a 10,000-peso banknote, worth the equivalent of about US$11 — five times the face value of the previous biggest 2,000-peso bill. — AFP