June 9, 2017 / 4:00 PM / 2 months ago

Venezuela inflation so far this year at 128 percent: congress

Riot security forces members catch fire during riots at a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela, June 7, 2017.Carlos Garcia Rawlins

CARACAS (Reuters) - Inflation in Venezuela's crisis-hit economy was 127.8 percent in the first five months of 2017, the opposition-led congress said on Friday in the absence of official data.

Economic hardship in the country, where many are skipping food and there are severe shortages, is helping fuel opposition protests that have led to at least 67 deaths in the last two months.

Various factors underlay the five-month price rise, including excess money-printing by the central bank, restrictions on imports and a recent devaluation of the bolivar, opposition lawmaker and economist Angel Alvarado said.

May inflation was 18.26 percent, he added, presenting the latest opposition-calculated index.

President Nicolas Maduro's government has not published official data for more than a year.

Government opponents say Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, have wrecked a once-prosperous economy with 18 years of state-led socialist policies ranging from nationalizations to currency controls.

The government says it is victim of an "economic war" led by opposition-linked businessmen.

Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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