Venezuela's annual inflation slowed for a seventh straight month in July, coming in below 20% for the first time in years. Finance Minister Jorge Giordani said annual inflation to July was 19.4% percent, below the 20 to 22% estimated in the government's budget for this year.
We have broken, punctured, the 20% threshold. ... This is good news regarding this complex, difficult, historical problem, Giordani told a news conference.
Monthly inflation slowed to 1% in July, lower than the 1.4% recorded the previous month and well under the 2.7% rate of July 2011. It was the first time Venezuela’s annualized rate had fallen below 20% since 2008.
Venezuela recorded the highest annual inflation in the Americas last year, at 27.6% and most economists had predicted it would be higher during 2012 because of a pre-election spending spree by Hugo Chavez's government.
His administration however has had some success combating rises with new price controls in some basic areas, including food and health that were put in place at the end of last year.
Slowing inflation and better growth figures are enabling the government to boast of economic success during an election year, in contrast with woes in debt-plagued Europe.
Central bank Nelson Merentes underlined the sliding trend of inflation: in 2010 the accumulated inflation rate in the first seven months amounted to 18%, and in 2011 it stood at 16%.
A one-digit inflation rate has not been reported in Venezuela since 1986, said Merentes.