Venezuela opposition leader says Q1 inflation 'around 30 pct'
CARACAS, March 31 (Reuters) - Venezuela opposition leader Henrique Capriles said on Tuesday that the country's inflation rate was a stunning 30 percent during the first three months of the year.
Capriles, who has provided inflation data in the past based on leaks that turned out to be accurate, chided the central bank for failing to publish monthly price data so far in 2015.
"Inflation in the first quarter is so high they do not know how to massage it," he said on a radio program.
"It's breaking records ... it's around 30 percent."
The central bank was previously required to publish the inflation index in the first 10 days of each month. But that regulation has been eliminated and delays have been common during President Nicolas Maduro's two years in office during which Venezuela has suffered severe economic problems.
Inflation last year totaled 68 percent, the highest of any economy in the Americas. Critics say the government's failed socialist policies are to blame, while Maduro has said opponents are deliberately price gouging and hoarding as part of an economic "war" against him.
Central bank officials had no comment on the figures given by Capriles nor could they say when official data would be released.
"We are waiting," a spokeswoman said.
Amid widespread shortages of basic products, which polls show Venezuelans regard as their chief concern, the bank stopped publishing its scarcity index in early 2014 when it was nearly 30 percent.
"What this government is trying to do is distract people and hide the reality being lived in the streets," Capriles added. (Reporting by Diego Ore and Andrew Cawthorne, editing by G Crosse)
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