Venezuela announces economic recovery plan

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Venezuelan government has outlined a six-month economic recovery plan designed to combat rampant inflation and plummeting oil revenue.

In a statement, President Nicolás Maduro heralded "a change of economic model" that would guarantee the continuation of the country's social spending program.

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The plan, which contained few details, included measures to curb smuggling and hoarding, the formation of "productive alliances" using local and foreign capital and the creation of a new production model for local industry.

A committee charged with implementing the plan is headed by Maduro and includes the chief of the government's economic information unit, Jesse Chacón.

Maduro said the changes would be introduced on January 3.

The announcement comes amid escalating concerns about Venezuela's economy, prompted by a 40% decline in crude prices since June.

According to OPEC, oil accounts for about 95% of the country's export earnings and 25% of GDP.

Maduro has also faced increasing pressure to devalue the bolívar.

A Bank of America report said the country's 64% inflation could rise to 1,000% in early 2015 if the currency is not weakened.

The exchange rate, officially at 6.3 bolívares per US dollar, is as high as 173 per dollar on the black market.

The country's dire economic plight and shortage of essential goods were blamed for widespread social unrest earlier this year, which claimed the lives of more than 40 people.

Inside a looted supermarket in Maracay, 100km from Caracas, in February. More than 40 people died during anti-government protests in Venezuela in 2014. CREDIT: AFP