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Venezuela Inflation Rate Rises Sharply

Venezuela's inflation rate rose sharply in January despite government efforts to control prices that climbed faster than in any other Latin American country last year.

The 2 percent jump in January far exceeded the 0.8 percent rise registered during the same month last year, according to central bank figures released Thursday. Prices rose by 1.8 percent in December, the bank said.

Near-record public spending by the oil-rich government of President Hugo Chavez has helped stoke inflation. The leftist government has spent billions on social programs that include subsidized food for the poor and cash benefits for single mothers.

Experts say that despite strong growth, the economy is not generating enough goods and services to soak up the excess liquidity.

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