Venezuelan currency is shown in Caracas, capital of Venezuela, on Jan. 22, 2014. Venezuela will adopt a new currency exchange scheme that allows public and private sectors to apply varied exchange rates, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Boris Vergara)
CARACAS, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela will adopt a new currency exchange scheme that allows public and private sectors to apply varied exchange rates, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Wednesday.
State agencies that need U.S. dollars to import essential goods, such as medicine and food, will continue to apply the current official exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars per dollar, Ramirez, who is also president of the state oil company PDVSA, said at a press conference.
He said Venezuelans traveling abroad and other private individuals, however, would pay a market rate for the greenback, instead of the controlled preferential rate.
"We are building a system of tiers to maintain control over our dollars, but a new exchange system is definitely evolving," Ramirez said.
The market exchange rate, currently at around 11 bolivars per dollar, will be set at weekly auctions held by the central bank, said the minister, adding that nearly 11.4 billion dollars are expected to be auctioned this year.
"The rate ... will be determined by the auction mechanism," Ramirez said, noting that the auctions will be under the management of the newly established National Foreign Trade Center.
Also on Wednesday, President Nicolas Maduro said via Twitter that thanks to the new exchange scheme, Venezuela would head for "a new economic order to invest its foreign currency for the development and growth of the real economy."
"We guarantee resources in dollars for the functioning of the economy and we are going to improve efficiency in the administration of those currencies," he said.
Venezuela instated foreign currency controls in 2003 to prevent massive capital outflows and redirect the country's oil revenues to social and economic programs.
Under the new exchange scheme, the market rate will also apply to travelers using their credit cards abroad, buying dollars prior to a trip, or purchasing airline tickets, remittances from abroad, insurance companies and foreign investors, among others.