Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuelan President Maduro says $88 oil price needed

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro waves to supporters on 1 August, 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Maduro has suggested a meeting of heads of states of the world's major oil producers

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for an average global oil price of $88 (£57) a barrel "to maintain investments worldwide".

He was speaking on Tuesday evening ahead of a technical meeting of experts from Opec and non-Opec countries in Vienna on Wednesday.

Venezuela, one of the world's biggest oil exporters, has seen its revenues hit hard by plunging oil prices.

Prices have dropped from $115 a barrel in June 2014 to below $50 this month.

Gloomy forecast

Mr Maduro said that "we are going to present proof, technical elements, at this meeting, that the average price needed to guarantee global investment in the next five to 10 years should be $88".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Venezuela's central bank last published inflation figures in December 2014

At Wednesday's gathering in Vienna, Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio del Pino is also expected to press for a meeting of heads of state of major oil producers.

Nevertheless, the Venezuelan government does not seem to be counting on an oil price rise anytime soon.

Presenting his projected budget to the country's National Assembly on Tuesday, Finance Minister Rodolfo Marco said it was based on an oil price estimate of $40 a barrel for Venezuelan oil.

The government also predicted an annual inflation rate of 85% in 2015 and 60% in 2016.

Independent analysts estimate that inflation will be much higher, saying that it is already in triple figures.

Venezuela's central bank last released inflation figures in December 2014, when it said annual inflation stood at 69%.

'Economic war'

Opposition politicians say Venezuela's high inflation is caused by government incompetence.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Venezuela says it loses huge amounts of subsidised goods to smugglers

The governor of Miranda province, Henrique Capriles, wrote on Twitter that "today Nicolas [Maduro] confirms his inability to resolve the chaos his government has generated".

He also called on people to cast their vote for the opposition in the upcoming legislative elections on 6 December.

President Maduro says the opposition is waging an "economic war" against the government.

In his speech on national TV he announced harsher sanctions for "price-gougers".

The government also announced a two-month extension to the closure of parts of its border with Colombia.

Venezuela says up to 40% of its products and huge amounts of subsidised petrol are smuggled across the border to be sold at a profit in Colombia.

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