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The Venezuelan government's move to devalue its currency, the first since 2010, pushes up the price of the dollar against the bolivar by 46.5 percent.
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Venezuela Sharply Devalues Its Currency
Associated Press
Venezuela's government announced Friday that it is devaluing the country's currency, a long-anticipated change expected to push up prices in the heavily import-reliant economy.

Officials said the fixed exchange rate is changing from 4.30 bolivars to the dollar to 6.30 bolivars to the dollar.

The devaluation had been widely expected by analysts in recent months, though experts had been unsure about whether the government would act while President Hugo Chavez remained out of sight in Cuba recovering from cancer surgery.

It was the first devaluation to be announced by Chavez's government since 2010, and it pushed up the price of the dollar against the bolivar by 46.5 percent.

By boosting the bolivar value of Venezuela's dollar-denominated oil sales, the change is expected to help ease a difficult budget outlook for the government, which has turned increasingly to borrowing to meet its spending obligations.

But analysts said the move would not be sufficient to end the government's budget woes or balance the exchange rate with an overvalued currency. Economists predicted higher inflation and a likely continuation of shortages of some staple foods, such as cornmeal, chicken and sugar.

Planning and Finance Minister Jorge Giordani said the new rate will take effect Wednesday, after the two-day holiday of Carnival. He said the old rate would still be allowed for some transactions that already were approved by the state currency agency.

Venezuela's government has had strict currency exchange controls since 2003 and maintains a fixed, government-set exchange rate. Under the controls, people and businesses must apply to a government currency agency to receive dollars at the official rate to import goods, pay for travel or cover other obligations.

While those controls have restricted the amounts of dollars available at the official rate, an illegal black market has flourished and the value of the bolivar has recently been eroding. In black market street trading, dollars have recently been selling for more than four times the official exchange rate of 4.30 bolivars to the dollar.

Economist Pedro Palma, a professor at Caracas' IESA business school, said the government's decision to allow some previously requested dollar transactions for products in categories such as food, healthcare, construction and autos will somewhat soften the impact on inflation. But he predicted the devaluation would inevitably further drive up inflation.

Economist Jose Guerra told The Associated Press that given the devaluation, he predicts inflation of more than 25 percent this year.

READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 02/08/2013








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