Venezuela inflation hits 13,779 percent: lawmakers

A woman ponders the sparse choice of vegetables in a Caracas supermarket
AFP

Caracas (AFP) – Venezuela’s dizzying inflation rose to 13,779 percent in the past year, a study released Monday by the opposition-dominated National Assembly has found.

The figure confirmed other estimates showing that Venezuela has by far the world’s highest inflation rate.

The South American country is in partial default on its debt and suffers severe shortages of food and medicines despite sitting atop the planet’s biggest proven oil reserves. 

The government of President Nicolas Maduro has been printing money as foreign reserves dwindle, and the national currency, the bolivar, has become nearly worthless.

The report by the legislature’s Finances and Economic Development Commission said “the annualized rate of inflation in April 2018 compared with April 2017 (is) 13,779 percent.”

The International Monetary Fund projects that Venezuela’s inflation will top 13,800 percent this year.

“We are in the country with the highest hyperinflation in the world,” the head of the legislature’s commission, Rafael Guzman, told a news conference. “We need a new fiscal and exchange rate policy to stabilize the money.”

The National Assembly has been reporting Venezuela’s inflation since last year, when the government stopped giving an official figure. 

Maduro insists Venezuela is the victim of an “economic war” waged by the conservative opposition and outside powers such as the United States, aimed at toppling him.

On Monday, US Vice President Mike Pence was expected to announce further sanctions on Venezuela, and call for the country to suspend a “sham” presidential election to be May 20, a US official told AFP.

The United States has already leveled sanctions at Maduro and his officials, as well on the the ability of Venezuela’s faltering state oil company PDVSA to raise money through US financial markets.

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