May 7, 2018 / 3:55 PM / 6 months ago

Venezuela annual inflation nears 14,000 pct -legislature

CARACAS, May 7 - Venezuela’s annualized inflation reached nearly 14,000 percent in April, according to figures released on Monday by the country’s opposition-led National Assembly, which publishes its own economic indicators amid silence at the central bank.

The OPEC nation’s socialist-run economy has collapsed, leaving the country withering under hyperinflation, constant shortages of food and medicine, and a growing exodus of Venezuelans seeking better conditions elsewhere.

President Nicolas Maduro says the country is victim of an “economic war” by opposition leaders that he says has been fueled by financial sanctions imposed by Washington.

Consumer prices rose 80 percent in April, compared with 67 percent in March, according to the legislature’s figures, and rose 13,779 percent in the 12 months ending in April.

The central bank did not respond to an email seeking comment. It has not published inflation data in more than two years.

Maduro’s critics say the principal problem is an unchecked expansion of the money supply, which has grown by close to 3,000 percent in a year. That in turn has made the local bolivar currency increasingly worthless.

The exchange rate for the bolivar on the black market, which is tolerated despite being illegal, has plummeted by 99 percent since Maduro took office in 2013.

The government is planning a currency overhaul for June that would remove three zeroes from prices. Critics have questioned whether authorities will be able to print new bills in time. (Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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