Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced changes in the country’s currency exchange and a rise in domestic oil prices for Venezuelans during his annual speech to legislators on Wednesday. CCTV America’s Martin Markovits reported this story from Caracas.
Venezuelan President Maduro offers plan for economic recoveryVenezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced changes in the country's currency exchange and a rise in domestic oil prices for Venezuelans during his annual speech to legislators on Wednesday. CCTV America's Martin Markovits reported this story from Caracas.
In a nearly three-hour address to Congress, President Maduro said he was forced to raise the price of the cheapest gasoline in the world due extreme economic pressure over the country’s recession and a 60 percent drop in oil prices.
“I believe that the time has come [to increase the domestic price of gasoline], I trust in the national conscience, in the conscience of the country,” the president said.
It’s been a tough year as Venezuela has entered into recession, and long lines have become the norm for basic products. There’s also increasing concern on Wall Street that Caracas may default on its debt payments.
The recent drop in oil prices has also caused a decline in the Venezuela’s revenue. The country depends on oil for 95 percent of its exports.
The speech was highly anticipated as the price of oil continued to drop, but the president had already cancelled it twice. This stirred fears that he did not have an answer to the economic crisis.
Citizens on the streets of Caracas were lukewarm to the president’s address.
“Before a barrel of oil was at $100 and our economy was in bad shape. Now the barrel is half of that, I don’t know what to expect anymore,” Venezuelan Cruz Garcia said.
The president also announced that he would fix the country’s complex currency control system. Some experts have suggested that this is not a radical change, but should ensure more dollars are sold at higher levels. This is intended to help ease the strict price and currency controls that have been in place for more than a decade.
Maduro also said he would increase wages and pensions by 15 percent, create more housing for the poor and offer more education grants.
He also assured Venezuelans that popular welfare programs would not only be maintained, but expanded.