RPT-Venezuela considers fuel price rise in three-year plan
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CARACAS Dec 18 (Reuters) - President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday he was contemplating a three-year period to raise domestic fuel prices, a sensitive issue for Venezuela where a similar move helped spark deadly 1989 riots.
"Without doubt, we have to correct a distortion," Maduro said of Venezuela's highly-subsidized gasoline that, at less than $0.02 per liter, is the cheapest in the world.
"(There is) a three-year plan to adjust the prices of hydrocarbons in the internal market ... We'll do it fairly at the right time, not right now, not in January, not rushing," Maduro said at an unusual meeting with opposition politicians.
Various government officials have in recent days flagged Maduro's intentions to raise gasoline prices, saying the subsidy costs the South American OPEC member about $12.5 billion a year.
Since the 1989 riots, there has been one other adjustment, in 1997, without incident.
While Venezuela's main business group Fedecamaras has welcomed the plan, opposition leaders have said Maduro should first stop sending subsidized oil to political allies such as Cuba before imposing higher prices on Venezuelans. (Reporting by Deisy Buitrago and Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)
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