Venezuelan economy tanked 13.2 percent in 2017: opposition

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s crumbling economy shrank 13.2 percent in 2017, the fourth year of a crippling recession in the OPEC nation, the opposition-led congress said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: People wait in a queue to buy food, on a sidewalk outside a supermarket in Caracas, Venezuela January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello

The opposition has been calculating inflation and GDP in the absence of up-to-date official data for the socialist-run economy that has been contracting since early 2014.

“The economy is being destroyed,” said opposition lawmaker and economist Jose Guerra at a presentation of the figures at the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

The data uses oil industry activity, vehicle assembly, bank loans and tax collection to gauge overall economic performance.

With hunger and malnutrition rising, widespread shortages, and an ongoing exodus of migrants, critics blame Venezuela’s mess on failed policies and corruption.

President Nicolas Maduro alleges an “economic war” by political foes and the United States.

The slump in global oil prices since 2014 has also hit hard.

The central bank did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Monday’s figures from the opposition.

The bank has not released Venezuela’s gross domestic product data since 2015, when the economic activity fell 6.2 percent.

But in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Venezuela’s government last year acknowledged its economy had shrunk 16.5 percent in 2016.

The opposition’s latest inflation indicator said prices rose more than 4,000 percent in the 12 months to the end of January.

Reporting by Corina Pons; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Andrea Ricci