HAVANA TIMES – Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro signed an agreement on Tuesday that authorizes the tourist industry to charge for services in US dollars, as an “exceptional” measure under the currency exchange scheme in effect since 2003.
Maduro said the measure will allow “for charging for public and private international services “with the goal of taking in new foreign exchange for the country.”
The duty free shops at Venezuelan airports will now be able to sell their products in US dollars.
“All of these stores will be able to charge in dollars for their merchandise and pay the State their taxes”, said Maduro.
The new regulations take effect on Monday, December 5.
Venezuela has a multiple tier system for dealing with US dollars. There are two official rates, one at 10 bolivares to 1 dollar and the other at 660 to one. On the street the rate is over 3,500 bolivares to one dollar.
Maduro said the exchange agreement is to “adapt to the circumstances of the economic war” he claims his government is facing, “to stimulate the reception of hard currency.”
Venezuela implemented strict currency controls back in 2003 under President Hugo Chavez with the goal to stop the flight of capital.
The country is facing increasing shortages of staple food and personal hygiene products which Maduro attributes to the “economic war”.