By Andrew Cawthorne and Diego Ore | CARACAS

CARACAS Venezuela confirmed on Tuesday it had entered a recession whereas inflation remained the very best within the Americas, and President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist authorities blamed political foes for the dismal information.

The Central Bank mentioned GDP contracted in every of the primary three quarters: four.eight %, four.9 % and a pair of.three %. Twelve-month inflation reached 63.6 % in November.

Economists, banks and regional our bodies have lengthy forecast that the OPEC member can be the worst-performing main economic system within the area this yr. The central financial institution assertion confirmed these views simply earlier than Maduro started a information convention wherein he was anticipated to announce financial adjustments.

Maduro, 52, gained election final yr to switch his mentor Hugo Chavez. He has blamed political opponents, who protested within the streets for 4 months this yr, for damaging the oil-dependent economic system.

Those protests resulted in violence that killed 43 individuals, together with protesters, safety officers and Maduro backers.

“These actions against public order blocked the correct distribution of basic goods to the population, as well as the normal development of production of goods and services,” the central financial institution assertion mentioned.

“This resulted in an inflationary spike and a fall in economic activity.”

Venezuela, whose final recession was from 2009-2010, could wrestle to show round its economic system given the plunge in oil costs. Venezuelan crude has dropped to $48 per barrel, in contrast with $96 mid-year.

Opponents say Venezuela’s financial disaster is a consequence of 15 years of socialist insurance policies, begun by Chavez, who dominated from 1999 to 2013 earlier than dying of most cancers.

“With one day of the year left, they publish the September, October and November figures. The highest in the world. Economic efficiency Nicolas! Wonderful,” scoffed opposition chief Henrique Capriles through Twitter.

CHANGES COMING?

Venezuela had not revealed inflation information since August.

Inflation in September was up four.eight %, October 5.zero % and November four.7 %, in contrast with the identical months of 2013, the financial institution mentioned in its assertion, which will be considered at ( here )

The financial institution mentioned Venezuela’s steadiness of funds posted a surplus of $6.eight billion by the tip of the third quarter, with a present account surplus of $899 million, and the capital account displaying a deficit of $568 million.

Venezuelan exports, of which oil accounts for greater than 90 %, fell 14.2 % to $19 billion within the third quarter, whereas imports had been down barely, by 1.four %, to $12.2 billion in the identical interval, the financial institution mentioned.

Chavez-era welfare insurance policies have lengthy been widespread amongst Venezuela’s poor, and the financial institution mentioned social indicators had been all bettering regardless of the poor GDP information.

It mentioned excessive poverty was down to five.four % of households in 2014, half the extent earlier than Chavez got here to energy, whereas unemployment fell to five.9 %.

“Despite the protests and economic war during 2014, Venezuela’s economic indicators have improved,” Maduro mentioned firstly of his information convention.

“This economic war, this fall in the oil prices, is a great opportunity for economic change. 2015 is the year of opportunity, for great change in the economic model.”

Many analysts are recommending reforms akin to a unification of Venezuela’s three-tier forex controls and an increase in gasoline costs which can be the most affordable on the planet. But Maduro has balked at such measures to date, maybe cautious of a social backlash previous to a vital vote for a brand new parliament subsequent yr.

(Additional reporting by Eyanir Chinea and Corina Pons; Editing by Peter Murphy and David Gregorio)





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