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Zimbabwe's Annual Inflation Tops 7,600 Percent

Zimbabwe's government says the country's annual inflation rate has soared to more than 7,630 percent.

That figure - for inflation through July --was released by Zimbabwe's Central Statistical Office Wednesday. The office released the information after a central bank memo on the inflation rate was leaked to the media earlier in the day.

The central bank memo said inflation had reached 7,251 percent through the month of June.

The statistics are the first official inflation data released by the government since April when inflation topped 3,700 percent.

The runaway inflation prompted the government to impose strict price cuts on food and other basic goods in late June. Earlier Wednesday, state media said the government is allowing retailers to raise some prices in an effort to ease nationwide shortages on many items.

The shortages developed after manufacturers cut production rather than sell items at a loss.

Critics blame Zimbabwe's economic crisis on government policies, especially the transfer of farmland from whites to blacks with little or no farming experience. Agricultural production has plunged since the transfers began in 2000.

President Robert Mugabe blames the crisis on British and U.S. sanctions against his government.