Venezuela annual inflation hits 24,600 percent in May: National Assembly

Venezuelan bolivar notes are pictured in an open cash register at a parking lot in Caracas, Venezuela May 29, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello

CARACAS (Reuters) - Prices in Venezuela rose almost 24,600 percent in the 12 months ended May 31, the country’s opposition-led National Assembly, whose numbers are broadly in line with those of independent economists, reported on Monday.

Inflation in May alone was 110 percent, according to the assembly’s calculations, amid an economic crisis in which millions of Venezuelans are suffering from shortages of food and medicine.

Venezuela’s central bank has not published inflation data for more than two years.

According to the assembly’s calculations, Venezuela entered hyperinflation, for which the benchmark is usually a 50 percent monthly inflation figure, at the end of 2017.

The opposition blames the hyperinflation on strict currency controls, enacted 15 years ago by former President Hugo Chavez, as well as excessive money printing. The bolivar currency is down some 98 percent against the dollar in the last year alone, meaning Venezuela’s minimum wage is equivalent to just a handful of U.S. dollars a month.

President Nicolas Maduro, who won re-election in a May 20 vote deemed a sham by critics, has blamed the super-high inflation rate on an alleged economic war directed from Washington.

Reporting by Andreina Aponte; writing by Angus Berwick; editing by Jonathan Oatis