Buenos Aires - Argentina's government has released poverty figures for the first time in three years, revealing that nearly a third of the population is living below the breadline.

The news came as a shock as the previous administration of Cristina Kirchner had stopped measuring poverty rates more than a decade ago.

In Argentina, you are officially poor if your family of four has less than $800 a month to live on.

The new statistics underscore the difficulty of achieving President Mauricio Macri's goal of "zero poverty".

"What we are starting to have in Argentina are real statistics. What we had until a few months ago was a fiction with no reality. It was a manipulation," Macri said.

"We believe this is our start point because this is the reality of Argentina. Without controls, without financial problems with the rest of the world, without distortions.

"This is our reality and I want to be evaluated on whether or not I was able to reduce poverty from now on."

Worsening situation

In recent months, the economic situation has worsened in Argentina since the new government tried to stimulate the economy by devaluating the national currency and lifting subsidies.

The measures have generated inflation, which in turn has eroded people's purchasing power.

Mauricio Macri takes office in divided Argentina

"We used to take public transport and now we are only using it when its necessary," said Blanca Duarte, a resident of the Rodrigo Bueno slum in Buenos Aires.

"Going to the supermarket is scary. I see the situation has been deteriorating. People are struggling to make it to the end of the month."

And that is why in recent months more and more people have been taking to the streets, demanding the government look their way.

¨We are here because we need better education, health, and jobs but this is a government that rules for the rich," Claudio Arevalo, a labour union leader, told a rally in Buenos Aires.

"They don't care about the workers and our needs. We need salary raises to cope with the current situation."

Argentina's government says it is trying to put the country's economy in order after years of largesse during the previous administration.

However, the poverty figures are alarming, suggesting that real and substantial challenges remain.


Source: Al Jazeera News