Venezuela inflation rises to 19.5% in June: congress

FILE PHOTO: A cashier counts Venezuelan bolivar notes at a supermarket checkout line in Caracas September 9, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan consumer prices rose 19.5% in June compared with the prior month, data from the opposition-controlled National Assembly showed on Wednesday, as surging inflation contributes to rising poverty in the once-prosperous OPEC nation.

The number was higher than the 15.3% rate in May, due largely to a further depreciation of the country’s beleaguered bolivar currency, according to opposition lawmaker Jose Guerra. The congress publishes a monthly inflation index due to an absence of regular official data.

The rise in prices in June brought the interannual inflation rate to 3,524%, the data showed. Socialist President Nicolas Maduro has overseen a six-year economic collapse, prompting poverty to rise to more than 65% of households and compelling 5 million Venezuelans to emigrate.

Maduro blames U.S. sanctions for the South American country’s economic woes, but his opponents say that the root causes lie in the government’s interventionist policies such as price controls and expropriations of private assets.

The most recent official central bank data show prices rose 38.6% in May and 27.5% in April.

Guerra warned that inflation rates would likely increase further in the coming months as producers begin to incorporate the impact of a recent hike in fuel prices into the prices of goods.

Reporting by Mayela Armas; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall