venezuela\s maduro promises importers overdue hard currency
Last Updated : GMT 15:30:33
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Venezuela\'s Maduro promises importers overdue hard currency

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Arab Today, arab today Venezuela\'s Maduro promises importers overdue hard currency

Caracas - AFP

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro promised to pay back billionsof dollars in government debt to disgruntled importers, after widespread shortagesof basic goods helped fuel months of deadly anti-government protests."We are going to immediately pay back 30 percent of (the total hard currency owedto importers) as a way to move forward on these commitments," Maduro told agathering of business leaders.Importers say they are owed $13 billion, and that the government's slow repaymentis a key factor in shortages of items as basic as toilet paper that leave manyVenezuelans spending hours in lines. Maduro did not put a specific number on whatthe government would repay or how soon.Venezuela -- which sits atop the world's largest proven crude oil reserves -- has LatinAmerica's highest inflation rate -- 57 percent. Maduro's heavily state-led governmentinherited from late leader Hugo Chavez a decade-old system of hard currencycontrols.Last year, Maduro's government fell behind in its delivery to importers of thecurrency they need to buy -- mostly abroad -- basic products, 25 percent of which arecurrently in short supply.Meanwhile Venezuela in recent months has clashed with several internationalairlines, including Air Canada, over billions of dollars the carriers say they wereowed by Caracas and not paid.Anti-government protests have rattled Venezuela since February, leaving at least 41people dead and more than 600 injured, with opposing sides trading blame for theviolence.Protesters are angry over soaring crime, shortages and rampant inflation, amongother woes such as spiraling violent crime.

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