Venezuelan Parliament Blocks Emergency Economic Decree

Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly rejected Friday an emergency economic decree that would have granted President Nicolas Maduro special powers to confront the country’s worsening economic crisis.

By Lucas Koerner
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Venezuela’s National Assembly. (AFP)
Venezuela’s National Assembly. (AFP)

Caracas, January 25, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly rejected Friday an emergency economic decree that would have granted President Nicolas Maduro special powers to confront the country’s worsening economic crisis. 

Unveiled by the national executive last week, the decree contained a series of emergency measures authorizing the president to pass legislation aimed at stimulating domestic production as well as combatting speculation, shortages, and tax evasion.

The proposed decree was, however, voted down by the newly elected, opposition-majority legislature by a margin of 107 votes against to 53 in favor.

“We reject the decree because it’s more of the same, the same policy that has produced the same results,” stated opposition parliamentarian Jose Guerra, head of the special commission charged with reviewing the decree. 

The lawmaker went on to deny the existence of what President Maduro has called an “economic war” waged by internal and external economic and political actors intent on destabilizing the country, instead placing the blame for the economic crisis on the Bolivarian government’s “failed model”.

President Maduro, for his part, criticized the parliamentary vote, denouncing the opposition-dominated legislature for “turning its back on the country… in this situation of economic emergency…having preferred the path of fanfare and confrontation.” 

The head of state has promised decisive steps to rescue the country from its economic tailspin, which so far include the creation of the National Council for Productive Economy grouping top political and business leaders. 

On Friday, Maduro approved several reforms aimed at incentivizing exports, including the temporary suspension of export licensing requirements, as well as a change in Venezuela’s exchange control regime which enables exporters to repatriate their profits at the highest exchange rate of 198 bolivars per dollar.

Last week, Venezuela’s central bank released official statistics for the first time in over a year pinning annual inflation at 141% and reporting a 7.1% contraction in GDP from September 2014 to September 2015.

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