December 10, 2018 / 4:09 PM / a year ago

Venezuela annual inflation tops 1 million pct in November: Congress

People shop at a vegetable and fruit stall at a street market in Caracas, Venezuela November 10, 2018. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s consumer prices rose 1.3 million percent in the year ending in November, the opposition-controlled National Assembly said on Monday, as hyperinflation and recession grip the OPEC member.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast earlier this year that inflation would top 1 million percent in 2018 and 10 million percent next year. Monthly inflation decelerated to 144 percent in November from 148 percent the prior month and 233 percent in September, the National Assembly said in a report.

Socialist President Nicolas Maduro late last month increased the monthly minimum wage by 150 percent to 4,500 bolivars, fewer than $10 at the black market exchange rate. Citizens had complained that they could not afford basic items despite a previous 60-fold minimum wage increase in August.

The National Assembly has become the only reliable source for consumer price data since the government stopped publishing economic indicators years ago as falling oil prices sent activity tumbling. The IMF has been pressuring Venezuela to provide it with official economic data, sources said last month.

Maduro blames an ‘economic war’ waged by domestic business interests and the United States for Venezuela’s woes. Critics point to his interventionist policies and printing of money to finance a wide fiscal deficit as the causes of hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth and Luc Cohen; editing by Grant McCool

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