President Maduro given freedom to rule by decree
The Venezuelan National Assembly (AN) passed the Enabling Act yesterday as requested by President Nicolás Maduro in October. The act will allow the president to rule by decree for one year; similar Acts were put in place for the president’s predecessor Hugo Chavez.
The president said that he needed the powers to fight corruption and what he has described as an ‘economic’ war being waged against the state. He has introduced two new laws which he now intends to strengthen, the Law of Costs, Profit and Fair Price Protection and the new Foreign Trade Law to ensure control of imports and exports.
The president also announced that prices are to be lowered further and a new register of small and medium businesses is to be instigated from Thursday.
The official press release on the passing of the Enabling Act notes “The head of state said that those who are at the head of the economic war against the people and the Government are business groups supported by right-wing politicians and the American Empire, so he invited citizens to go out to uphold the laws”.
The opposition led by former presidential candidate and now Miranda state governor, Henrique Capriles, have not recognised the results of the presidential election held in April this year and are vigorously contesting local elections to be held on 8th December. The elections will be seen as a key test of the popularity of the government with President Maduro denouncing anyone who says that they will not support the government.
Meanwhile the think tank Síntesis Financiera has estimated that international reserves at the central Bank have fallen 31% in the last year to $20.6 billion, the lowest level since 2004 according to a report in El Universal. The report suggests that currency reserves are only enough to meet three months’ worth of imports when the international norm is six months.
According to a blog by the Cato Institute, since the death of Hugo Chavez on 5th March this year the bolivar has lost 62.36% of its value on the black market which in turn has led to high inflation. Official government estimates put inflation at 50% but the Cato Institute suggests that annual inflation is now running at around 283%.
On the good news side, President Maduro established a new Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness at the end of October in order to coordinate all “mission” programmes created by former President Hugo Chavez to alleviate poverty.