Venezuela to remove five zeroes from ailing currency

In this file photo taken on June 20, 2018 a man counts 1000-Bolivar-bills to buy groceries at the municipal market of Coche, a neighbourhood of Caracas. (AFP)
Updated 26 July 2018
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Venezuela to remove five zeroes from ailing currency

CARACAS: Venezuela will remove five zeroes from the bolivar currency rather than the three zeroes originally planned, President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday, in an effort to keep up with inflation projected to reach 1 million percent this year.
The OPEC nation’s economy has been steadily collapsing since the 2014 crash of oil prices left it unable to maintain its socialist economic system that for years provided lavish subsidies while enforcing strict price controls.
Annual inflation in June topped 46,000 percent, according to the opposition-run Congress. The IMF said this week it could hit seven digits this year, putting it on par with the crises of Zimbabwe in the 2000s and Germany in the 1920s.
“The monetary reconversion will start on Aug. 20,” Maduro said in a televised broadcast, showing new bills that are to be released next month.
He said the overhaul would tie the bolivar to the recently launched state-backed cryptocurrency called the petro, without offering details.
Cryptocurrency experts have said the petro suffers from a lack of credibility because of a lack of confidence in Maduro’s government and the mismanagement of the country’s existing national currency.
The government has said it is the victim of an “economic war” led by opposition leaders with the help of Washington, which last year levied several rounds of sanctions against Maduro’s administration and a group of top officials.
The country’s high inflation rate has made it nearly impossible to obtain cash.
Venezuela’s minimum wage is now about the equivalent of $1 a month, which has left citizens across the country unable to eat properly or obtain basic medical care — fueling an exodus of Venezuelans seeking to escape the economic crisis.
The government had been prepared to cut three zeroes off the currency in June but postponed the measure at the request of banking industry leaders who said the financial system was not ready for the measure.
Maduro on Wednesday proposed an overhaul to the currency crimes law in order to improve the flow of foreign investments.
Economists routinely identify the exchange controls as a major hindrance to economic growth. The issue will be taken up by the country’s all-powerful Constituent Assembly, Maduro said.
He also said he was transferring a concession bloc of the vast Orinoco heavy oil belt to the central bank, which he said would help shore up the bank’s international reserves.


Saudi Aramco Trading aims for 50% rise in oil trade volume in 2020

Updated 2 min 19 sec ago
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Saudi Aramco Trading aims for 50% rise in oil trade volume in 2020

  • About 50 percent of the 2.5 million bpd of oil products it trades currently are hedged
  • The company is also looking at building its capacity in trading liquefied natural gas

SINGAPORE: Saudi's Aramco Trading Company (ATC) expects to increase its oil trading volume to 6 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2020, 50 percent higher than current levels, the company's top official said on Monday.

"Currently ... we're at 4 million barrels per day and with expansion I think our target is 6 million barrels per day," President and Chief Executive Ibrahim Al-Buainain said at the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC).

About 50 percent of the 2.5 million bpd of oil products it trades currently are hedged, he said.

The company is also looking at building its capacity in trading liquefied natural gas (LNG), using its Singapore office as a trading hub, Buainain said.

ATC plans to set up its European office in either Geneva or London and also aims to have an office in Fujairah to manage oil storage, he said.

In Singapore, Buainain said he expects the company's office to grow to 30 to 40 people within the next two years.

ATC also expected to benefit from a switch by ships to cleaner fuels in 2020 as mandated by the International Maritime Organization.

"The second-hand effect of the IMO is the oversupply of high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) which in our case is a positive because we are net short on fuel oil and that will help us in meeting our requirements (for HSFO) in power generation," Buainain said.

Buainain has headed the trading arm of Saudi Aramco since 2016.

ATC was set up in 2012 to market refined products, base oils and bulk petrochemicals. It started trading non-Saudi crude oil and refined products from its overseas refineries in the past years as the world's largest oil exporter seeks to optimise profits.