Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 2nd 2014 Contents A18
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, January 2, 2014
CARACAS---For three weeks
Venezuelan economists have
complained that the central bank
is delaying delivery of its inflation
report to hide the government s
poor record of containing prices.
Its release on Friday only fueled
The report showed inflation
slowing in the past two months
and for the first time omitted data
that track the level of shortages in
South America s biggest oil econ-
omy. Critics say they don t buy
the numbers and fear that the
bank, long a redoubt of balance
and credibility in polarised
Venezuela, is caving to political
pressure and losing its autonomy
from President Nicolas Maduro s
"It makes me very sad to read
this report," said Asdrubal Oliveros,
director of Caracas-based eco-
nomic think tank Econanalitica.
"It looks like propaganda written
by the Information Ministry, not
a technical report that you d expect
from a central bank."
The central bank said that infla-
tion slowed after the Government
took "exceptional and historic"
actions to combat a speculative
run-up in prices by groups trying
to destabilise the country.
Prices jumped 4.8 per cent in
November and 2.2 per cent in
December, according to the report.
In October, prices jumped 5.1 per
As is customary, the report
didn t provide an annualised rate
of inflation. But Maduro, when
asked about the omission at a press
conference on Friday, conceded
that prices rose 56.2 per cent this
year judging by the "bourgeoisie"
methodology employed by the
central bank s statisticians.
He defended the strident, ide-
ological tone of the central bank s
10-page report, saying that if
opponents hadn t waged an "eco-
nomic war" in the aftermath of
President Hugo Chavez s death in
March, inflation would ve ended
2013 under 10 per cent.
"We ve seen a speculative,
induced inflation that exceeds the
natural rules of the economy,"
Maduro told foreign reporters at
the presidential palace.
Also missing from the report is
the closely-watched scarcity index,
which in October showed a record
22 of 100 products were out of
The bank s report goes to lengths
to align itself with recent economic
policies announced by Maduro,
concluding that it s on the side of
the Venezuelan people in its con-
struction of socialism and a "new
national economic order."
As such, the bank said 2014 is
a "propitious" moment to review
the methodology used to calculate
the consumer price index, a sign
to Oliveros that future reports will
understate inflation much like
Argentina s national statistics insti-
tute has been criticized for doing
by the International Monetary
Economists had been warning
that the report would be compro-
mised ever since Maduro last
month rebuked the bank for the
way it measures prices. He said
last month that internal calcula-
tions showed prices fell 5 per cent
in November as a result of the
Government slashing of prices of
television, refrigerators and stoves
after it seized several retail chains
accused of charging speculative
The forecast was immediately
questioned because appliances
carry only a small weighting in the
price index, making it impossible
to swing the gauge at a time prices
for food, clothing and services are
rising in tandem with a steep
decline of Venezuela s currency in
the black market.
Intrigue about the delay began
to build after the bank abruptly
cancelled a Dec. 19 news confer-
ence to release the report.
The central bank s bylaws require
it to publish inflation data within
the first 10 days of each month.
On the rare occasions when it has
missed the cutoff date before, it
was late by only a few days.
Never before has the bank pub-
lished inflation data for two
months simultaneously nor before
the period under study has ended.
The central bank on Friday jus-
tified the delay because it said it
needed to go back and verify price
movements after the government s
We've seen a speculative,
induced inflation that
exceeds the natural rules
of the economy
---Maduro told foreign
reporters at the
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks at a news conference at Miraflores
presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela. AP PHOTO
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