To decree a state of emergency

Venezuela lawmakers to reject economic crisis plan

GMT 08:21 2016 Saturday ,23 January

Arab Today, arab today Venezuela lawmakers to reject economic crisis plan

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Caracas - Arab Today

Venezuelan opposition lawmakers vowed to reject on Friday President Nicolas Maduro's bid to decree a state of economic emergency, deepening a political crisis in the oil-rich nation.

Friday is the deadline for the opposition-controlled National Assembly to vote on Maduro's decree, which would give him special powers to intervene in the economic crisis.

A refusal to pass it will prolong a tense political standoff in the volatile South American state, where citizens are suffering shortages of food and goods.

The opposition speaker of the congress, Henry Ramos Allup, accused Maduro's government of failing to adequately inform lawmakers of the details of the decree so they could debate the plan.

"It would be totally irresponsible for the National Assembly to blindly approve a decree of such magnitude, scope and implications, without having any information because the government itself refused to provide it," he said on television.

He said earlier that lawmakers suspended a session of the assembly in which the government was due to defend the decree because the ministers did not show up.

Maduro's economic team pulled out at the last minute saying they would only participate if it was closed to the media, Ramos said.

Senior pro-government officials accused the center-right opposition, which this month took control of the assembly for the first time in 17 years, of trying to turn the session into a "media show."

The decree, issued a week ago, would give Maduro 60 days of extraordinary powers to combat a deep recession and triple-digit inflation.

It allows for the administration to commandeer private companies' resources, impose currency controls and take "other social, economic or political measures deemed fitting."

The opposition as well as some businesses and unions have warned it is a threat to free enterprise and jobs.
- Tense political standoff -

Announcing the decree last week, Maduro admitted Venezuela was in a "catastrophic" economic crisis.

He called on the assembly to approve the decree and "help me navigate this crisis."

But he vowed to resist any shift towards what he called "neoliberal" policies.

"You will have to come and overthrow me if you want to pass a privatization law. No, no and no!"
The same day Venezuela's central bank released its first economic growth and inflation statistics in more than a year.

The figures showed the economy shrank 4.5 percent in the first nine months of 2015.

Annualized inflation in September hit a painful 141.5 percent, fueled by crippling shortages.

Maduro said his emergency plan would allow the government to shore up its health, housing, education and food services.

He vowed to overhaul the country's system of production to shift it away from the oil revenue on which his social spending programs have relied.

Venezuela has the world's biggest known crude oil reserves but the price of oil has plunged over the past year and a half, slashing its revenues.

The opposition has branded the socialist policies of Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez a failure.

It wants to scrap government's price and currency controls.

The head of the congressional commission examining the decree, lawmaker Jose Guerra, said the opposition would make its own economic proposals to the government.

"Our interest is in resolving the crisis, but it is not going to be resolved through the government's policies," he said Friday on television channel Globovision.

The commission opened a session about 1530 GMT on Friday to discuss the decree. The full assembly was due to convene later.

Analysts say the political deadlock threatens to worsen the hardship that drove voters to hand the opposition a landslide election victory last month.

They have warned of the risk of a repeat of violent street clashes that left 43 people dead in 2014.
Source :AFP

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