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UPDATE 1-IMF suspended work with Venezuela on economic data after political upheaval

Lesley Wroughton

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WASHINGTON, May 30 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund suspended work with Venezuela on its economic data in January because of questions about the country's recognized government, the IMF said on Thursday, days after the Venezuelan central bank reported its first data in nearly four years.

The IMF spokesman told Reuters the publication of gross domestic product and inflation data by the central bank on Tuesday was done by authorities in the government of President Nicolas Maduro and was not due to pressure by the Washington-based lender.

Maduro had repeatedly dismissed the IMF as an agent of U.S. colonialism and routinely criticized the institution for leading harsh austerity programs in developing countries.

The IMF spokesman said the fund could not fully assess the quality of the data released on Tuesday, which showed a 22.5 percent economic contraction in Venezuela's economy in the third quarter of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

"We cannot offer a view on data quality as we have not had the opportunity to make a full assessment in the absence of contacts with the authorities," the spokesman said.

Last year the IMF issued a "declaration of censure" against Venezuela for failing to report timely and accurate economic data such as gross domestic product and inflation. The move was a warning to Caracas that it could be barred from voting on IMF policies, and eventually expelled, unless it resumed timely and accurate reporting of its economic data. (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Dan Grebler and Sonya Hepinstall)