CARACAS, April 14 Venezuela's opposition has
accused the government of delaying publication of March
inflation data for political reasons, saying the annual rate has
reached an alarming 60 percent.
The Central Bank is supposed to publish the closely watched
consumer price index in the first 10 days of the month, but
delays sometimes occur.
Venezuela has the highest inflation in the Americas, with
the opposition saying that is evidence of the failure of
socialism and President Nicolas Maduro blaming his opponents for
sabotage, hoarding and economic "war" against him.
"The Central Bank directors are violating their own norms ..
it is unacceptable," the opposition Democratic Unity coalition
said in a statement at the weekend, demanding the immediate
publication of March inflation and scarcity data.
"Great damage is done to the nation when monetary
authorities hide statistical information."
The coalition, known by its acronym MUD, said it had
information the 12-month inflation rate had risen from 57.3
percent in February to 60.0 percent in March.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who in the past has
given accurate inflation figures before the bank citing sources
of his in government, said via Twitter that March inflation was
more than 4.0 percent.
"That's more than one year (inflation) for various Latin
American nations!" he said. The scarcity index, which measures
shortages of goods, had hit a new high, Capriles added.
One of the opposition's key demands in a nascent dialogue
with the government, born out of two months of street protests,
is greater transparency in public finances. Both sides were due
to meet for a second round of talks on Tuesday.
Protests that began in February have sparked violence
killing 41 people, according to official figures. Inflation and
shortages have figured high among demonstrators' complaints.
A Central Bank spokeswoman said on Monday she did not know
when March inflation data would be published. "Up to now, we do
not have information about that," she said.
Venezuela's decades-old inflation malaise pre-dates Maduro
and his predecessor Hugo Chavez's 14-year rule, spiking to even
higher levels in the 1990s, according to IMF data.
(Writing by Andrew Cawthorne Editing by W Simon)