Venezuela president says 2015 inflation near 100 percent, economy to shrink 4 percent

A girl looks at Venezuelan bolivar notes while her mother counts them to pay the cashier at a supermarket checkout line in Caracas, October 20, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s annual inflation rate is near 100 percent and the economy will likely contract around 4 percent this year, said President Nicolas Maduro, in a rare mention of data detailing the OPEC nation’s economic woes.

The central bank has not published inflation or GDP figures for this year, as the state-led economy unravels.

Many economists believe consumer prices are rising much faster than 100 percent, and the International Monetary Fund recently estimated that the economy will contract 10 percent this year.

Currency and price controls, as well as a recent collapse in oil prices, have severely damaged Venezuela’s economy.

Maduro, however, blames an “economic war” waged, he says, by the opposition.

“The miracle this year: (despite) the economic war, 4 percent contraction, I think this year, inflation near 100 percent and (yet) unemployment today is down to near 5 percent, poverty is down, misery is down,” said Maduro during a near-five hour television program on Tuesday night.

Maduro did not offer further details.

Voters punished Maduro over the economy in Sunday’s legislative election, handing the opposition a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.

The opposition has demanded officials release economic data and solve economic problems.

Reporting by Girish Gupta; Editing by Jacqueline Wong