Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is implementing some major economic changes including propping up the country’s currency and hiking minimum wages in effort to boost the country’s ailing economy.
Venezuela’s currency will be renamed the “sovereign bolivar,” and five zeros will be lopped off of its value. The old and new currencies will remain in circulation together during a transitional period.
Banks remained closed Monday as they prepared to release the sovereign bolivar.
Maduro said Sunday that beginning Sept. 1, the minimum wage will be hiked more than 3,000% to around $30, the widely used black market rate. In late September the world’s cheapest gasoline will rise to international levels to curtail rampant smuggling across borders.
Maduro said he wants to peg wages, prices and pensions to the petro — a cryptocurrency announced in February but which has yet to start circulating. He said one petro would equal $60, with the goal of moving toward a single floating exchange rate in the future tied to the digital currency.
Economists say the package of measures is likely to accelerate hyperinflation rather than address its core economic troubles, like oil production plunging to levels last seen in 1947.
A coalition of opposition leaders and union officials said Sunday they are calling for a strike and protest on Tuesday.
"The measures announced on Friday are not any economic recovery plan for the country," opposition leader Andres Velasquez said. "On the contrary, they represent more hunger, more ruin, more poverty, more suffering, more pain, more inflation, more deterioration of the economy."
The socialist country’s economy has collapsed, leaving its people without even food and medicine. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted inflation in the country will exceed 1 million percent this year.
In other news, on Monday ConocoPhillips said it has reached an agreement with PDVSA, Venezuela’s state-owned oil company to recover nearly $2 billion it was awarded as part of a decade-old expropriation dispute.
PDVSA has agreed to recognize the judgement by an international arbitration panel and will make the first $500 million payment within 90 days and the rest over a period of some four years.
In exchange, Conoco will suspend legal actions to seize PDVSA's facilities in the Dutch Antilles that had threatened to disrupt Venezuela’s already-depressed oil exports at a time of widespread shortages and hyperinflation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.