* Bank chief says 2010 inflation should be lower
* Inflation election issue
CARACAS, Sept 8 Venezuelan consumer prices will
rise by 28-29 percent in 2010 and should be 9-10 percentage
points lower in 2011, Central Bank president Nelson Merentes
said on Wednesday.
The bank reported August inflation of 1.6 percent on
Tuesday, with prices up by 19.9 percent this year. Venezuela
has one of the world's highest rates of inflation, with double
digit price rises the norm since the 1980s.
"We will end the year with less than 30 (percent). Close to
28-29. It's still high, but we are preparing to bring it down
steadily. In 2011 it should come down a level, by 9 to 10
The government has released more dollars for food imports
in recent months, reducing the scarcity of products such as
apples and milk and helping avoid a larger price spike forecast
by many economists following a currency devaluation in
Along with crime and unemployment, the high cost of living
is an issue for the government of President Hugo Chavez ahead
of legislative elections on Sept. 26.
The OPEC nation is the only Latin American country expected
to be in recession for a second year in 2010.
The economy shrank by 3.5 percent in the first half of the
year, but the government predicts it will return to growth by
the last quarter.
A recent report from Washington-based think-tank CEPR said
the economy may have already emerged from recession, according
to its calculations of seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter
The central bank does not itself provide quarter-on-quarter
numbers in a timely fashion,
(By Patricia Rondon; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing
by Andrew Hay)