Venezuela September inflation accelerates to 52.2%: central bank

A customer pays with debit card at a store in Caracas, Venezuela, January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s consumer prices rose 52.2% in September compared with 34.6% in August, the country’s central bank said on Friday, adding that prices rose 4,679.5% through the first nine months of the year.

The country’s gross domestic product contracted by 26.8% in the first quarter of 2019 with respect to the same period a year earlier, the bank said, part of an economic crisis that has forced more than 4 million people to leave the country.

The central bank stopped releasing basic economic indicators around four years ago, but this year has started doing so at irregular intervals.

The opposition-run congress, which began releasing its own economic indicators several years ago, said prices rose 23.5% in September. Generally, the legislature tends to report higher figures than the central bank.

President Nicolas Maduro blames the country’s economic problems on U.S. sanctions and an “economic war” led by his political adversaries. His critics say failed state intervention in the economy and rampant corruption are to blame.

Reporting by Caracas newsroom; Editing by Tom Brown and Rosalba O’Brien