By Deisy Buitrago and Eyanir Chinea
CARACAS Feb 20 Venezuela's long-awaited "Sicad
2" foreign exchange system will hold hard currency auctions
every day, hopefully beginning from Monday, said the vice
president for the economy, Rafael Ramirez.
The government gave few details on Thursday of the new
system, which President Nicolas Maduro decreed into law late the
night before. Sicad 2 seeks to ease a chronic shortage of hard
currency that is hitting the import-dependent economy.
Venezuela's complex currency control system currently uses
two rates, one for essential goods such as food and medicine and
a less-preferential Sicad rate, used for items such as foreign
travel and remittances.
Ramirez said private companies and individuals will be able
to sell dollars under Sicad 2, which will offer a third rate
that will likely be less favorable through a currency mechanism
known locally as "permuta" based on bond swaps.
"We have extra resources and we are going to continue
putting them into this market ... (Sicad 2) will be available
every day," Ramirez told reporters.
"There will be a fluctuating rate as a result of the demand
that is being created ... but of course we in the central bank
will intervene offering more funds when needed, because the idea
of all this is to make the (black market rate) decline."
Venezuela's bolivar black market rate is approaching 90 to
the dollar, far weaker than the official rate of 6.3 bolivars to
dollar for essential imports, and the 11.7 dollar rate offered
by the current Sicad system launched in 2013.
Sicad takes its name from the Spanish acronym for the
Complementary Administration System for Foreign Exchange.
Venezuelan global bonds rose as much as 2.6 percent on
Thursday despite a rout over the last week caused by ongoing
opposition demonstrations that have left at least 5 people dead.
Investors see the new system as positive for bondholders
because by offering a weaker exchange rate, it will free up more
hard currency to make debt payments.
Ramirez said the complete text of the law will be published
on Friday, and that he would brief the press on it again. Public
and private banks, along with brokerages, would be allowed to
take part in Sicad 2, he said.
Economists say the huge gap between the official rates and
the spiraling black market rate is one of the main problems of
the OPEC nation's economy.