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Venezuela crisis threat to stability, says Maduro

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Venezuela crisis threat to stability, says Maduro

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's (pictured) recently declared 60-day economic emergency, which includes raising taxes and imposing further currency restrictions, is not due to the slump in oil prices hurting the country's revenues but symptomatic of the government's failed economic policies, opposition legislators say.

Maduro said on Wednesday that Venezuela's economic crisis has become a threat to the country's stability, according to El Universal newspaper.

Local media reported that Maduro has issued an edict that would grant the president extra powers, allowing for the implementation of measures to increase revenues through higher taxes and controls on industry and currency transactions as the country faces acute shortages of food and basic goods.

However, the measures require majority approval in the national assembly, now controlled by the center-right opposition for the first time in 16 years.

Opposition legislators have also called for an investigation into the finances of state oil company PDVSA, including loans the NOC received from China.

The president of the assembly's committee evaluating Maduro's emergency decree, José Guerra, says however that the economic crisis afflicting the country is not a result of the fall in oil prices, according to El Universal.

He said that in 1Q14, when oil was trading at US$101/b, the Venezuelan economy was already in freefall, the newspaper reported.

Guerra said the current crisis, which he described as the worst the country has experienced since 1959, was exacerbated by the drop in oil prices, but not caused by it.

Earlier this month, Venezuela's central bank published economic data for the first time since 2014, showing the 12-month inflation rate to be 142% in September and the economy contracting 4.5% year-on-year during January-September.

Guerra's view was echoed by the governor of Miranda state, Henrique Capriles.

"This crisis is due to the incorrect application of a failed [economic] model that has brought negative consequences to the national productive apparatus," he was quoted by El Universal as saying.

"Maduro continues with the same broken record of economic warfare, and which nobody believes any longer and how he is trying to convince the people that the economic crisis is due to the drop in oil prices," Capriles said.

Maduro this week claimed that the "economic war" in Venezuela has been orchestrated from Colombia.

"There is a strategy of economic war against Venezuela from Bogotá, to weaken us and come after us, because the Colombian oligarchy has dreamed of governing Venezuela since the times of Santander," Maduro was quoted by El Colombiano newspaper as saying, referring to the leader of Colombia's fight for independence from Spain.

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