Venezuela's economy grew 17% in Q1, says central bank president

A man sells lettuce on a street near the municipal market in the popular neighborhood of Catia in Caracas, Venezuela June 11, 2022. Picture taken June 11, 2022. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

CARACAS, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Venezuela's economy grew 17.04% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022, the country's central bank president said on Tuesday.

"This is the highest growth in the Latin American region," central bank President Calixto Ortega said in a state broadcast, giving the first official data on Venezuela's economic growth since the first quarter of 2019.

Ortega said the central bank has an estimate for second-quarter growth, but did not share the figure. He did say the private sector rebounded 18.7% in that period.

The central bank president added that the Venezuelan economy grew 19.07% in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.

The South American country's economy has been submerged in a severe recession since 2014 while battling high inflation.

Its GDP, which was equivalent to about $400 billion a decade ago, is now between $50 billion and $60 billion, according to estimates by analysts and economic firms.

Faced with lower oil production and U.S. sanctions, the government of President Nicolas Maduro in 2019 relaxed the controls on the economy, which were one of the factors behind the economic collapse.

Since then, de facto dollarization has given a breath of new life to sectors such as manufacturing, commerce and services.

Reporting by Vivian Sequera Editing by Chris Reese and Sam Holmes

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