CARACAS, Venezuela, March 20 Venezuela's
long-awaited new foreign exchange system, which has already
missed several promised start dates, will begin operations on
Monday, the country's vice president for the economy said on
The government has said several times in recent weeks that
the system, Sicad 2, is about to start. The system is intended
to weaken the black market for U.S. dollars and also to place
more hard currency in the hands of importers.
"Sicad 2 will begin operating on Monday, March 24," the
economy vice president, Rafael Ramirez, told state television.
"Every day we have been testing the system, running tests from
the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry."
Sources at private banks have told Reuters that prospective
participants in Sicad 2 had yet to receive any of the literature
explaining its rules, casting doubt on the latest launch date.
The new Sicad platform will add a third exchange rate to
11-year-old currency controls that sell dollars at 6.3 bolivars
for preferential goods and around 11 bolivars for other items.
Officials say it will help lower the price of dollars on the
black market, where greenbacks are fetching around 65 bolivars.
That level has fallen from around 90 bolivars a couple of weeks
Dollars can be offered in cash or bonds via Sicad 2 at a
price above the other two official rates, but lower than the
black market rate. Officials say the system will operate daily,
and that businesses and individuals can take part.
(Reporting by Diego Ore; writing by Daniel Wallis; editing by