July 11, 2018 / 7:51 PM / 8 months ago

Venezuelan economy shrank 12 percent in first quarter - congress

A seller waits for customers at a fruit and vegetables stall during a special inspection of Venezuelan soldiers to a municipal market in Caracas, Venezuela June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s economy contracted 12 percent in the first three months of this year compared with the same quarter of 2017, the opposition-led congress said on Wednesday, in another dramatic indication of the OPEC nation’s unravelling.

The government of President Nicolas Maduro stopped publishing economic indicators nearly three years ago as Venezuela’s socialist economic system started falling apart, so opposition legislators started doing their own calculations for economic activity last year.

Lawmakers said the decline was driven by a steep drop in oil production to roughly 30-year lows due to lack of investment, a brain drain, corruption and crime.

“Socialism ruined the country,” said economist and opposition lawmaker Jose Guerra as he presented the results.

Earlier this week, congress estimated that Venezuelan consumer prices rose 46,305 percent in the 12 months ending in June.

Leftist Maduro has insisted that the country’s problems are the result of an “economic war” led by the opposition business leaders who arbitrarily raise prices.

Reporte by Corina Pons; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Richard Chang

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