Venezuela monthly inflation accelerates to 24.6% in April, central bank says

Credit: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

CARACAS, May 18 (Reuters) - Venezuelan consumer prices rose 24.6% in April, quicker than the 16.1% clip in March, the central bank said on Tuesday, as the once-prosperous OPEC nation remains mired in an economic collapse and a humanitarian crisis.

Annual inflation was 2,940.8% in April versus year ago price index levels, according to Reuters calculations based on central bank data. Hyperinflation in Venezuela has pulverized the value of the bolivar currency, and the country's minimum monthly wage is now worth just $3.30 per month.

The jump was driven by a 75.1% increase in the cost of communications and a 44.3% rise in services like electricity and water.

Incessant inflation has driven Venezuelans to increasingly use foreign currency, namely the U.S. dollar, in day-to-day transactions. President Nicolas Maduro has embraced the informal dollarization as an "escape valve" for Venezuelans seeking to survive the economic crisis, which he blames on U.S. sanctions.

Critics point out that Venezuela's recession began long before the U.S. ramped up sanctions, and blame interventionist economic policies by Maduro and his socialist predecessor and mentor, the late former President Hugo Chavez.

(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago and Mayela Armas Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

((; +58 424 133 7696; Reuters Messaging: Twitter: @cohenluc))

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