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Venezuela inflation accelerating, parliament says

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Caracas (AFP)

Crisis-wracked Venezuela's yearly inflation rate rose to over 4,000 percent in July, the opposition-controlled parliament said on Wednesday.

Inflation over the last 12 months dipped to 3,500 percent in June from almost 3,700 percent the previous month, but it is back on the increase.

The National Assembly has been releasing inflation figures since 2017 due to a lack of data from the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

July's inflation was 55 percent, up from the 19.5 percent in June, opposition legislator Alfonso Marquina said.

Venezuela is in the midst of the worst economic crisis in its history after seven years of recession.

The bolivar has "lost its exchange function" due to depreciation, Marquina said, adding that the US dollar has replaced it as Venezuela's common currency.

At the end of April, the government increased the minimum wage by 78 percent but it's still worth only $2.80 a month when a kilogram of meat costs $4.00.

Marquina said the average four-person family needs $213 a month to survive.

According to a survey by three top universities, four out of five Venezuelans cannot afford the basic necessities to live.

In 2019 the Central Bank said Venezuela finished the year with inflation of 9,500 percent, significantly higher than parliament's figure of 7,400 percent.

Meanwhile, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said Venezuela's production remained at levels not seen since 1934.

Figures sent by the government to OPEC showed production at 393,000 barrels a day, practically identical to June's data.

That's barely more than 10 percent of the 3.7 million bpd Venezuela was producing at its peak in 1970.

Other figures provided to OPEC based on market data shows Venezuela's production at just 339,000 bpd, compared to 356,000 in June.

Just 12 years ago, Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA was producing 3.2 million bpd.

Experts blame the production drop on government mismanagement, corruption and a failure over many years to invest in infrastructure upgrades and maintenance.

These problems have been amplified by US sanctions aimed at starving Maduro's regime of a major source of funds in a bid to force him from power.

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