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Venezuela's inflation rate tops 49 per cent

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela’s Central Bank says prices have risen nearly 50 per cent since last September as the country struggles to rein in a quickening rate of inflation and widespread shortages.

Thursday’s report says the consumer price index for September was 4.4 per cent higher than the one for August and 49.4 per cent higher than the one for September 2012.

The country’s leftist government has spent heavily on social programs, rapidly increasing the amount of currency in circulation. It also tries to control prices while restricting access to bolivars at the official rate of exchange of 6.3 per dollar. That leads many to pay seven times as much for dollars on the black market.

Officials say speculators are to blame for soaring prices and shortages.

The inflation rate for 2012 was 20.1 per cent.