August 07, 2008
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela's annual inflation climbed to 33.7 percent in July in metropolitan Caracas, but slowed its pace as price controls on food were eased and supply increased, the Central Bank said Thursday.
Annual inflation in the capital was up from 32.2 percent in June. Meanwhile, nationwide monthly inflation slowed to 1.9 percent from 2.4 percent in June, the bank reported.
The bank has not been releasing annualized inflation figures for the whole country since it adopted a new method of measuring inflation this year. The new method incorporates smaller cities, where prices are often lower than in the capital - making comparisons to previous figures difficult.
Independent economist Abelardo Daza said President Hugo Chavez's elimination of a 1.5 percent tax on financial transactions has helped to slow inflation since May.
Daza estimated that nationwide inflation will close out the year at 26 percent - down from previous estimates of 30 percent - as the elimination of the tax and other economic measures take effect, including speeding importers' access to U.S. dollars.
Since January, the government has also raised price caps on some basic food items to stimulate production and combat sporadic food shortages.
As supply increased, price gains on food products including rice, flour, pasta and beef slowed to 2 percent in July - down from 3.6 percent a month earlier, the Central Bank said Thursday.
Still, food prices have increased at an annual rate of 49.9 percent in metropolitan Caracas.
Prices have continued upward surge even as growth slowed to a four-year low of 4.8 percent during the first quarter. The government has not yet released second-quarter growth figures.
Planning Minister Haiman El Troudi said in remarks published in the newspaper El Nacional that he expects increased growth during the second quarter.
He declined to say whether the government is considering revising its year-end inflation goal of 19.5 percent.