CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela will launch a new “complementary” system to bolster the official foreign exchange system, and full details will be given on Tuesday, acting President Nicolas Maduro said.
The government has been promising more economic measures to improve the supply of dollars within a system of strict currency controls introduced by the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.
In televised comments, Maduro said Venezuela’s financial system had enough dollars to feed demand, and that the new arrangement would support the existing CADIVI currency board.
“From this week, Venezuelans who need foreign exchange in special conditions are going to have a complementary system to CADIVI,” the acting president said. “The specific details of how it is going to work will be fully explained tomorrow.”
Before Chavez died, interim leader Maduro began implementing various economic measures, including a devaluation of the bolivar currency and a change to the oil windfall tax structure.
Economists had been widely predicting the government would create a new system through which people and businesses could access U.S. dollars, beyond the CADIVI board which sells a restricted amount at a price of 6.3 bolivars to the greenback.
“We have directed (Finance Minister) Jorge Giordani, working with the central bank, to make sure the dividends needed by the complementary system are in place by next Monday,” Maduro said.
As well as improving the supply of dollars, the government says the system will help combat black market currency trading.
Local newspapers have reported that the new system will operate via direct sales of dollars from oil revenue, as opposed to a previous secondary mechanism, known as Sitme, which was based on bond transactions.
“It’ll be much better than Sitme. Quicker, more efficient,” Maduro said on Monday.
Venezuela devalued its currency by 32 percent last month in the fifth such move in a decade under Chavez’s rule. His interim replacement, Maduro, is running for election on April 14.
Businesses have for years complained about restrictions on access to foreign currency, while the government says it is obliged to maintain controls to counter speculative trading.
Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Paul Simao