Maduro: De facto dollarization is economy's escape valve
Photo made available by Miraflores Press showing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in an interview with Venezuelan journalist Jose Vicente Rangel (out of frame) in Caracas, Venezuela, 17 November 2019. EFE/EPA/Miraflores Press HANDOUT HANDOUT / EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
Caracas, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that he does not disapprove of the de facto "dollarization" that one sector of his country's economy is experiencing, declaring that the phenomenon acts as an "escape valve" that contributes to the "recovery and deployment" of productive forces.
"That process that they call dollarization can serve to recover and deploy the country's productive forces and the functioning of the economy. It's an escape valve, and thank God it exists," said Maduro in an interview broadcast on Sunday by private television channel Televen.
"Perhaps what I'm going to say might be a sin for the masters of dogma, but I'm going to tell you something: I don't see it badly ... I confess I'm a sinner," he added before confirming that the phenomenon arose due to the "necessary self-regulation" of the Venezuelan economy, which has contracted by more than 50 percent since 2013, according to the country's parliament.
Venezuela's currency - the bolivar - is the only legal means of exchange in the country and since 2003 exchange controls give the state the exclusive power to administer the flow of dollars in the economy, which mainly enter via petroleum sales, another activity that is exclusively in state hands.
But EFE has verified that after the relaxation of the exchange controls over the past year a good portion of Venezuelans have taken refuge in the US currency to guard their assets with an eye toward dealing with the rampant inflation in the bolivar, which so far in 2019 has skyrocketed by more than 4,000 percent, according to the report issues each month by parliament.
Maduro said that "all economies of the world are dollarized" in some manner, and in Venezuela's case - the currency of which was strong in the 1970s - the situation is not something new.
A sector of the Venezuelan economy "was always dollarized. What is happening is that it was dollarized with the state's petrodollars and now the self-regulation of the economy has appeared," he said.
Venezuela is the country with the world's largest proven petroleum reserves, but it is going through the biggest economic crisis in its modern history, with cyclical scarcities and high inflation.
The country has also seen its foreign earnings cut by the plunge in petroleum production to around 700,000 barrels per day, the lowest level in the history of the state-run PDVSA oil company.