Venezuela Inflation Soars Toward 30% as Maduro Cuts Dollar Sales

Venezuelan consumer prices soared the most in three years last month as President Nicolas Maduro’s government reduced dollar sales to importers and the central bank’s scarcity index reached the highest on record.

Prices rose 4.3 percent from March, the central bank said today, the most since April 2010 and faster than the 3 percent median estimate of nine economists in a Bloomberg survey. The annual inflation rate reached 29.4 percent, the highest since August 2010.

Venezuela’s government introduced a complementary currency system this year, after a February devaluation, that auctioned $200 million on March 27. The system, known as Sicad, has not auctioned any foreign currency since. Finance Minister Nelson Merentes said May 2 that 85 percent of the country’s economic problems would be solved “soon.” Fewer dollars for importers make it harder to buy goods abroad, exacerbating shortages.

The scarcity index, which measures the amount of goods that are out of stock on the market, rose to 21.3 percent last month, the highest since the central bank started tracking the measure in April 2009, according to the central bank report. Food prices climbed 6.4 percent in April, the central bank said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jose Orozco in Caracas at jorozco8@bloomberg.net; Corina Pons in Caracas at crpons@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net

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