After officially devaluing the national currency last Friday, the Venezuelan government announced a series of measures to increase the country’s exports, substitute its imports, boost electricity production, and combat price speculation, as purchasing frenzies sprung up in several major cities on Monday. However, union leaders have reacted with concern to the devaluation and recommended wage increases.
The Venezuelan government’s measures to reduce national electricity consumption amidst nation-wide shortages and rolling power outages have invoked varied responses from unionists in the basic industries, especially the steel and aluminum sectors.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced a devaluation of the official exchange rate of the bolivar currency and the creation of a second rate denominated the “oil bolivar” for non-essential imports, in a nationally televised address on Friday.
Following months of regular blackouts in some regions of Venezuela, the government has implemented energy saving measures, requiring companies to submit plans to save 20% of their electricity usage, regulating the usage of lighting for advertising, and creating schedules of electricity usage for shopping centres, casinos, and bingo halls.
After five years of economic growth fuelled by high oil prices, Venezuela’s economy entered into recession at the end of 2009 with a decline of 2.9 percent, according to a central bank report released Tuesday. Despite the recession Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has vowed to maintain social spending.
Venezuelan and Chinese government officials and business leaders met in Caracas this week to discuss bilateral relations. As a result of the accords signed at the meeting, Venezuela will increase its supply of oil to China to more than 600,000 barrels per day next year, and China will increase its investments in Venezuelan agriculture, infrastructure, mining, and energy production.
Following the government’s nationalisation of two banks and liquidation of two others for banking law infractions, three bank executives fled to the U.S., and the government intervened in food companies owned by currently detained bank owner, Ricardo Fernandez.
The Venezuelan National Assembly approved the Finance Ministry’s 2010 national budget proposal without modifications on Wednesday. Nearly 46% of the budget is allocated to public education, social development, health care, and the innovative social missions which have improved the poor’s access to health care, education, economic stimulus, and food security over the past five years.
The Venezuelan government announced it will liquidate two small banks and indefinitely close two others after investigations revealed the banks had failed to comply with the credit issuance quotas, carried out illicit transactions amongst each other, and accumulated capital whose origins could not be explained.