On January 13 Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro presented the National Assembly with his annual report (“Memoria y Cuenta 2020”). The President made a summary of last year’s events in the country and announced the measures to be put in place during 2021 to enhance economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. These include allowing people to open bank accounts in foreign currency and encouraging the use of the Petro cryptocurrency. These measures are expected to be gradually implemented over the course of the year.
Maduro’s main announcements are:
- Allowing businesses to legally open bank accounts in foreign currency to process payment transactions, which will be supervised by the Banking Institutions Superintendency (Sudeban, in Spanish) “to guarantee that this process fosters economic activity rather than monetary speculation.” Maduro recognized that the dollarization of business transactions during the last few years has served as “a beneficial escape valve” and emphasized that the central axis of his administration is to strengthen the national currency, the Bolivar. “Every tradesman will be able to open an account,” he declared.
- Encouraging the use of the Petro cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies to reduce cash dependency and enhance the innovation and digitalization of the economy. Maduro said this will help overcome the “damage caused by U.S. sanctions,” and blamed international sanctions for the 98% reduction in the country’s income between 2013 and 2020. “We went from having more than USD 50 billion in 2013 to just USD 743 million last year,” Maduro said.