Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has won “sweeping power” to deal with the dire economy, with the country’s Supreme Court ruling that his imposition of economic emergency is constitutional.
Last month, Maduro declared a 60-day economic emergency as the South American socialist country slid deeper into economic crisis amid rising inflation and sliding oil prices. The top court had to intervene because the National Assembly, currently dominated by opposition party members, had blocked the decree.
Hours after the Supreme Court ruling, Nicolas Maduro stated that he would now enforce the measures he has already found fit to revive the economy. But he has not specified the measures he is going to implement.
All that the Supreme Court has said is that the new economic measures should comply with international human right treaties.
Some analysts are speculating that Venezuela might resort to print more money and inject it into the economy. Going by Maduro’s comments, he will allocate more resources to public services, clamp down on tax evasion and streamline the process for importations.
Some Venezuelan papers say the decree will also allow the state to force individuals to extend the service of their warehouses, transport, and distribution network for the state to combat what the government calls “economic war.”
The decree is set to expire in 60 days, but the president can seek to extend the decree, pending approval by the National Assembly. Maduro is repeatedly arguing that his government policies generated jobs and that capitalist policy would surely have pushed people into unemployment.
Oil is Venezuela’s main source of income and the main financier of its programs. The policy structure in place makes it difficult for the country to sell oil below $80 a barrel. Today, with oil prices hitting new lows and dollar reserves depleting, Venezuela is facing a chronic shortage of basic goods, which has forced citizens to stand in lines for hours at groceries stores.
A study by Caracas-based polling firm Datanalisis suggests that Venezuelans spend on average five hours per trip buying groceries and visit up to four different stores to find products.