By Girish Gupta
CARACAS (Reuters) – Prices in Venezuela rose 4,068 percent in the 12 months to the end of January, according to estimates by the country’s opposition-led National Assembly, broadly in line with independent economists’ figures.
Inflation in January alone was 84.2 percent, opposition lawmakers said, amid an economic crisis in which millions of Venezuelans are suffering food and medicine shortages.
The monthly figure implies annualized inflation of more than 150,000 per cent and that prices will double at least every 35 days.
With cash in short supply and banking and communications infrastructures struggling, day-to-day transactions are becoming increasingly difficult for Venezuelans.
The government blames the problems on an economic war waged by the opposition and business leaders, with a helping hand from Washington.
Critics in turn blame strict currency controls, which were enacted by Hugo Chavez 15 years ago this week. The bolivar is down some 40 percent against the dollar in the last month alone.
A million dollars of Venezuelan bolivars bought when the currency controls were introduced would now be worth just $7 on the black market.
The government has not published inflation data for more than two years though has increased the minimum wage repeatedly in a nod to rising prices.
The government raised the minimum wage 40 percent on Jan. 1, making it roughly equivalent now to just over $1 per month.
(Additional reporting by Leon Wietfeld; Editing by Susan Thomas)