Honduras enacts month-long gasoline price freeze in inflation fight

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - The Honduran government passed a month-long freeze on increases in gasoline and diesel prices on Friday, the country's energy minister announced, making the Central American nation the latest to intervene as inflation causes gas prices to skyrocket worldwide.

Inflation in the 12 months through May reached 9.09% and accumulated inflation for the first five months of the year hit 5.18%, central bank data showed, driven primarily by surging fuel prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Honduran central bank has a 4.0% inflation target, plus or minus one percentage point.

"The government is going to freeze the prices of regular gasoline and diesel for four weeks starting on Monday to alleviate the impact of international fuel prices on the national economy," Energy Minister Erick Tejada said at a press conference.

Latin America's leaders have pulled no punches in the battle against inflation. The region has some of the highest interest rates in the world, with Mexico's central bank making a record rate hike this week. But so far they are losing that fight.

Fuel prices have skyrocketed in Honduras, which is expected to see inflation above double digits this year for the first time since 2000, according to central bank estimates.

Diesel in Honduras, the second-poorest country in Latin America, is used mainly in industry, transportation and electricity generation, while regular gasoline is used by lower-middle class consumers.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa; Writing by Kylie Madry in Mexico City; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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