/ Updated  / Source: Associated Press
By Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela inflation could nearly double in 2016, the International Monetary Fund has said.

In a note published Friday, IMF Western Hemisphere Director Alejandro Werner said inflation could reach as high as 720 percent in the economically struggling South American country within the year.

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Venezuela already suffers from the world's highest inflation rate. The IMF estimates that inflation here was running at 275 percent last year.

Last week, Venezuela's Central Bank published economic data for the first time in more than a year. The bank said inflation reached 141.5 percent by September of last year.

Werner said Venezuela's economic troubles are leading to widespread shortages and "exacting a tragic toll."

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