CARACAS, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Inflation in Venezuela's
crisis-hit economy was 536.2 percent in the nine months to
September, largely due to the rapid depreciation of the local
currency on the black market, the opposition-controlled National
Assembly said on Friday.
The government stopped releasing price data more than a year
ago, but congress has published its own figures since January
and they have been close to private economists' estimates.
As well as the alarming Jan-Sept cumulative rise, the
legislative body - which has been sidelined by President Nicolas
Maduro's government - put monthly inflation at 36.3 percent for
September, compared with 34 percent in August.
Opponents say Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, have
wrecked a once-prosperous economy with 18 years of state-led
socialist policies from nationalizations to currency controls.
The government says it is victim of an "economic war",
including speculation and hoarding, by pro-opposition
The country's bolivar currency has weakened sharply in
recent weeks on the widely-watched black market rate.
On Friday, $1 was worth nearly 27,000 bolivars on the black
market, versus 22 when Maduro took power in April 2013 and
18,500 at the start of September this year.
Opposition lawmaker and economist Angel Alvarado said the
government's restriction of dollars available via official
currency exchange mechanisms had pressured prices in September.
"The government strategy is only making Venezuelans poorer
by the day," he said, adding that families were now spending 80
percent of income on food.
Prices in Venezuela, which has long had one of the highest
inflation rates in the world, rose 180.9 percent in 2015 and 274
percent in 2016, according to official figures, although many
economists believe the real data was worse.
(Reporting by Caracas newsroom; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. "Reuters" and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.