Maduro says he expects Venezuelan economy grew 4% in 2021

CARACAS, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro expects the South American country’s economy grew by more than 4% last year, following eight years of recession and rising prices, he said on Saturday.

Venezuela’s central bank has not updated figures for the country’s gross domestic product since the third quarter of 2019, when GDP contracted 26.8% versus the same period in 2018.

“After five years of the economic war of boycotts and blockades, Venezuela is back on track for economic growth,” Maduro said during his annual address before the National Assembly.

He also forecast economic growth in the third quarter of last year at 7.6%, without explaining further.

Last year Venezuela’s oil production doubled thanks to small oil services companies and supplies from Iran, but that does not mean state oil company PDVSA will be able to keep ramping up output, experts say.

In recent years Venezuela’s commerce and services sectors have also enjoyed breathing space since the government decided to loosen economic controls in 2019 and allow greater use of foreign currency.

However, these measures have not guaranteed broad recovery across all sectors, analysts say.

Last year the government scaled back spending in bolivars to increase monetary stability and control inflation. Even so, prices remain high and continue to hit the wallets of Venezuelan families. (Reporting by Deisy Buitrago Writing by Oliver Griffin Editing by Leslie Adler)