September 5, 2019 / 9:03 PM / 3 months ago

Venezuela August inflation rises to 62.5%: opposition

CARACAS, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Venezuelan consumer prices rose 65.2% in August, according to the opposition-controlled congress, a faster rate than previous months due to a sharp currency depreciation and rising government spending in the hyperinflation-stricken country.

That brought the 12-month inflation rate to 135,379.8%, further reducing the purchasing power of the national minimum wage of 40,000 bolivars - worth less than $3 - per month. Inability to afford basic goods like food and medicine has prompted more than 4 million people to emigrate.

“Venezuelans who earn minimum wage can afford to buy only 2% of the basic food basket,” said opposition lawmaker Angel Alvarado, a member of the National Assembly’s finance commission.

The central bank did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Inflation had decelerated in recent months due to strict reserve requirements on banks, which reduced credit available to businesses. Economists say that contributed to a further decline in economic activity in the OPEC nation, which is in its sixth straight year of contraction.

The congress has become the only reliable source on inflation data since President Nicolas Maduro’s government stopped publishing economic indicators years ago.

The central bank in May broke a nearly four-year silence on official economic data by publishing statistics showing an inflation rate of 33.8 percent in April. It has not published consumer price data since then. (Reporting by Mayela Armas Writing by Luc Cohen Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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