Venezuela hikes bank reserve rate again in inflation fight

lunes 31 de marzo de 2014 12:41 GYT

CARACAS, March 31 (Reuters) - Venezuela's central bank has raised the reserve amount that banks must deposit with it by 1.0 percentage points to 21.5 percent amid government efforts to tame an annual inflation rate of more than 57 percent.

The measure, which takes effect on Tuesday, is the latest in a series of increases in the reserve ratio.

It was published in the government's Official Gazette (here)

Monetary liquidity expanded by more than 70 percent last year as the central bank financed heavy social spending by state oil company PDVSA, putting upward pressure on prices. Foreign reserves fell during the same period by almost 20 percent.

The socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro blames consumer price rises on unscrupulous business owners he accuses of leading an "economic war" aimed at toppling him.

The opposition says the problems are the result of price and currency controls that have caused chronic product shortages as well as constant confrontation with the private sector. (Reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Chizu Nomiyama)