December 12, 2016 - 16:05 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Venezuelan government is to withdraw its largest banknote from circulation in its latest attempt to tackle the world’s worst inflation crisis, The Guardian said.
President Nicolás Maduro said on Sunday, December 11 that the 100-bolivar note, which is currently worth only two US cents (1.6p) on the black market, will be withdrawn on Wednesday. Venezuelans will then have 10 days to exchange the notes at the central bank.
Maduro said the surprise move was needed to help stop criminal gangs profiteering on Venezuela’s border with Colombia. “We must keep beating the mafias,” he said.
His beleaguered government has already announced plans to introduce six larger notes and three new coins from Thursday this week.
Critics said the latest move was impractical and would not tackle the root cause of the country’s financial crisis. It also risks prompting a repeat of scenes witnessed in India last month when the withdrawal of highest value rupee notes prompted huge queues at banks.
Writing on Twitter, opposition leader Henrique Capriles said: “When ineptitude governs! Who would possibly think of doing something like this in December amid all our problems?”
Maduro is facing mounting anger over his handling of the financial and political crisis engulfing Venezuela. In October, officials blocked an attempt to hold a referendum recall of his socialist government. Last month, plans for Vatican-brokered talks were put on hold after officials failed to attend meetings.
The opposition is seeking to oust Maduro, but authorities vow he will not leave office before his term ends in 2019.
Venezuela’s inflation rate is running at an estimated 500% and shortages of food and medicine have pushed the poorest members of its 30 million-strong population to the brink of a humanitarian crisis.