Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate has hit a new record high of 1,281 percent.

The government central statistics office issued the figures Wednesday, showing annual inflation rose 182 percentage points in December from the previous month.  Statistics chief Moffat Nyoni says the highest cost increases were for electricity, gas and other fuels.

Zimbabwe's inflation rate is the highest in the world.  It first passed the one thousand percent mark last year.  Officials have repeatedly predicted declines in the inflation rate, but those have failed to materialize.

The country is experiencing an economic crisis, marked by 80 percent unemployment and a shortage of basic needs like food and fuel.

Critics blame the government's policies, especially the seizure of white-owned farms that led to a sharp fall in agricultural production.

President Robert Mugabe has blamed Western critics such as Britain and the United States for the problems.  He rejects criticism that his government has mismanaged the economy.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.