Venezuela inflation rate ticks up despite liquidity restrictions

FILE PHOTO: Lawmaker of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD) and second vice president of the National Assembly Alfonso Marquina talks to the media during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Adriana Loureiro

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s monthly inflation rate ticked up in July after two straight months of declines, the opposition-held congress said on Thursday, despite tight reserve requirements that economists say are exacerbating an economic collapse.

Consumer prices rose 33.8% in July, up from 24.8% in June. Rampant inflation has led to a severe decline in purchasing power in Venezuela, where the monthly minimum wage amounts to just over $3 per month. More than 4 million Venezuelans have emigrated due to the inability to buy food and medicine.

“We are still in hyperinflation,” opposition lawmaker Alfonso Marquina told reporters. “You can find food, but the prices are inaccessible.

Annual inflation in July was 264,872%, down from 445,482% in June and well below levels OF over 1 million percent earlier this year. President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government has managed to bring down hyperinflation by imposing strict reserve requirements on banks, reducing credit available to businesses.

Economists say that has contributed to a severe decline in economic activity. The International Monetary Fund expects the OPEC nation’s economy to shrink 35 percent in 2019.

The central bank in May broke a nearly four-year silence on official economic data by publishing statistics showing an inflation rate of 33.8 percent in April.

Neither the bank nor any other government entity regularly reports economic figures, leaving the opposition-held National Assembly as the main source for indicators like inflation.

Reporting by Mayela Armas; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Jonathan Oatis