January 8, 2018 / 7:13 PM / 9 months ago

Venezuela 2017 annual inflation at 2,616 percent: opposition lawmakers

CARACAS (Reuters) - Prices in Venezuela, which is believed to have the world’s highest inflation, jumped 2,616 percent last year, the country’s opposition-led National Assembly said, as millions suffer from food and medicine shortages during a severe economic crisis.

People crowd at the gates of a supermarket as they wait to buy food in Caracas, Venezuela January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Opposition politicians, whose numbers are broadly in line with analysts’ estimates, on Monday put December’s inflation figure alone at 85 percent, well into hyperinflation territory for which the benchmark is usually 50 percent.

“Inflation in December alone is greater than accumulated inflation (over the whole year) for all of Latin America,” said lawmaker José Guerra.

Slideshow (11 Images)

Venezuelan authorities did not respond to a request for comment.

The country’s minimum wage went up 40 percent in January but still is worth just over $2 per month on the black market exchange, where the bolivar currency has weakened about 35 percent against the dollar in the last month alone. Hundreds of people mobbed some supermarkets on Saturday after authorities promised price cuts.

The central bank has not published inflation or gross domestic product data for two years. However, the money supply expanded by more than 1,000 percent last year.

President Nicolás Maduro says the problems stem from the “economic war” waged by Washington and the opposition against his government. Critics blame the government’s strict currency and price controls.

Writing by Girish Gupta; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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