Venezuela’s Maduro Pushes Back Currency Deadline, Sees ‘Economic Expansion’ in 2017

President Nicolas Maduro again extended Thursday the window for Venezuelans to use their old BsF100 bills, just days before the currency was slated to be removed from circulation.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

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President Nicolas Maduro says Venezuelans will now have until January 20 to use their BsF100 bills. (Prensa Presidencial)
President Nicolas Maduro says Venezuelans will now have until January 20 to use their BsF100 bills. (Prensa Presidencial)
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Puebla, Mexico, December 30, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – President Nicolas Maduro again extended Thursday the window for Venezuelans to use their old BsF100 bills, just days before the currency was slated to be removed from circulation.

Venezuelans will now have until January 20 to either spend their BsF100s, or trade them in at the central bank, Maduro said during a speech aired by state media. This was the third deadline set by the president for the withdrawal of the notes from circulation. Previously, he stated the BsF100s would be replaced with new currency by January 2, after the government failed to meet an earlier self imposed deadline of December 15.

The initial timetable gave Venezuelans less than two weeks to exchange their old bills, sparking currency shortages and riots in some parts of the country.

While millions of Venezuelans have already traded their old currency in at banks, the new denominations are yet to be rolled out, despite the government repeatedly claiming shipments of the new bills have arrived in the country. The latest such claim was made on Thursday, when the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) issued a statement assuring Venezuelans a new shipment of currency had touched down at the Maiquetia international airport. They added that by January, they expected to have 40 tonnes of new currency on hand, equal to around 6 million individual pieces.

None of the new currency has been put into circulation, with the government blaming the distribution delays on sabotage.

Maduro said the sabotage was part of an economic war aimed at destabilizing Venezuela, which for over a year has been facing its deepest economic crisis in over a decade. However, the president vowed better times are ahead.

“I guarantee that 2017 and 2018 will be years of economic and cultural expansion,” he said.