Date
13 November 2018
Despite the latest devaluation, Venezuela's official bolivar rate is still dwarfed by the black market rate for greenbacks. Photo: Reuters
Despite the latest devaluation, Venezuela's official bolivar rate is still dwarfed by the black market rate for greenbacks. Photo: Reuters

Venezuela announces 99.6% devaluation of official forex rate

Venezuela’s central bank on Monday announced a devaluation of more than 99 percent of its official exchange rate with the launch of a new foreign exchange platform, Reuters reports.

The central bank said the first auction of its new DICOM system yielded an exchange rate of 30,987.5 bolivars per euro, equivalent to around 25,000 per dollar.

That is a devaluation of 86.6 percent with respect to the previous DICOM rate and 99.6 percent from the subsidized rate of 10 bolivars per dollar, which was eliminated last week, the report noted.

The new rate is still dwarfed by the black market rate for greenbacks, currently at 228,000 bolivars per dollar according to website DolarToday, which is used as a reference.

The existence of such disparate exchange rates has for years encouraged Venezuelans to buy dollars on the cheap and flip them on the black market for a profit.

That has created shortages of hard currency, which in turn fuels shortages of imported products such as food and medicine.

The government has repeatedly created foreign exchange mechanisms similar to DICOM, but business leaders say it never provided a steady supply of hard currency.

Venezuela is undergoing a major crisis, with quadruple-digit inflation and shortages of food and medicine.

Economists consistently describe the 15-year-old currency control system as the principal obstacle to functioning commerce and industry.

The government would repeatedly end up shuttering the foreign exchange platforms in part because maintaining an exchange rate so divergent from the black market rate proved to be unsustainable.

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CG/RC

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