First mandate to the INE: include free electricity rates to contain inflation

The economic vice president, Nadia Calviño. / ep

Since January, Economy insists on the need to calculate the CPI with all the receipts, a process that Statistics has not been able to complete

Jose Maria Waiter

The president who in a few weeks is appointed by the Ministry of Economy to head the INE (National Institute of Statistics) will have to face one of the most important data changes that the Executive wanted to promote with his successor, although in the end he did not It has been possible: the incorporation of free electricity rates to the calculation of the CPI (Consumer Price Index) to update the data; adjust it to reality; or, basically, improve the inflation records.

The
Abrupt departure of Juan Rodríguez Poo from Statisticsfor "personal reasons", although after several months of disagreements with the department headed by Nadia Calviño, he will end up with a new position that will have his two great challenges in the CPI and in the GDP.

The data published monthly by the INE on inflation still does not reflect a good part of the price that millions of consumers pay for electricity. And since electricity is the product that has pushed the shopping cart up the most, the agency has been working for months on the formula to include all electricity contracts in the official IPC registry.

It is not technically easy, as the institution has always recognized. So much so, that the INE wanted to incorporate these free market contracts into the official inflation data last January. And six months later it still doesn't. Then “it was not possible”, indicate Statistics sources.

Economic growth and inflation, the statistics that have convulsed the INE

The question is not trivial. By not including free contracts, part of the prices is left out of the records. Until now, the INE only took into account the price paid by users of the regulated market (about 10 million in all of Spain) by keeping track of the exact cost they pay for electricity, that is, the euro per kWh. A figure that in the case of free contracts has not yet been achieved, because it depends on the information provided by each company.

Vice President Calviño herself considers that this situation translates into "a rapid transmission in inflation." Each euro that the kwh of the regulated rate (PVPC) raises directly raises the IPC. It supposes "an overweighting" of a specific rate, according to Calviño.

To incorporate this mass of contracts (they exceed 16 million throughout Spain) it is necessary for the electricity companies to provide their data. And having not done so yet, Calviño has taken advantage of an occasion in the last month to call for the responsibility of companies, especially energy companies, so that they "put their shoulders to the wheel", lower the price of electricity and provide the INE with the data that has been demanded of them in order to put an end to the overweighting of the price of gas in the CPI so that it can faithfully reflect the price of electricity.

In fact, the dart launched by Calviño had a recipient at that time, Iberdrola. After the months that they have been working to have this detail, he said that "there is a company that has not given the data and we need everyone to help to lower the price of fuel so that the price of energy in the market lowers wholesaler and so that the IPC accurately reflects real prices".

a complicated process

The incorporation of free rates does not have to imply a drastic reduction in inflation, even less so in a context of rising energy prices. Although, in part, it can support the CPI data.

Given the complexity of the data, the companies came to request an extension of the granted term and hope that the information will be available to the INE in the shortest possible time. But that day hasn't come yet. Electric companies have been proposing the disaggregation of the CPI for more than two years, taking into account fixed-price contracts and not only the regulated rate.

The free electricity contracts are characterized by the stability in the prices that the companies apply to their clients, although it depends on each case. Its validity is usually one year ahead, compared to the variation of the regulated ones.

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