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Venezuelan MPs reject Maduro’s ‘economic emergency’ decree

23 January 2016 11:01



Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly has rejected a presidential decree for “emergency powers” amid a slumping economy.

The development came on Friday during a parliamentary debate in which the ruling party and opposition parliament members accused each other of pushing the country to bankruptcy.

Venezuela’s opposition block took over control of the country’s Congress in December 2015 for the first time since 1999.

President Nicolas Maduro’s demand for a 60-day expanded authority came a week ago, envisioning wider executive powers to control the budget, as well as the country’s corporations and currency. The opposition, however, argues that he already holds sufficient powers, and blames him for the country’s economic troubles.

The parliament voted down the presidential decree 107 to 54. Opposition lawmakers have further vowed to legally oust President Maduro from power through forced resignation or referendum by the middle of the year.

The congressional debate took place against the backdrop of severe economic developments in the Latin American country. The US-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that the inflation rate in Venezuela would more than double this year, reaching the unprecedented 720-percent mark.

Fifty three-year-old Maduro, meanwhile, harshly slammed the opposition’s rejection of his decree saying, “I’m very sorry the National Assembly is turning its back on the country… They prefer shows and confrontation.”

Ahead of the final vote on the decree, Maduro had announced the approval of a measure that would allow the country’s small export sector to use a more favorable currency exchange rate. Opposition leaders, however, denounced the decree as a trap aimed at making them look intransigent and unwilling to fix the economy.

“We’re not closing any doors. On the contrary, today we opened the door to a serious discussion,” said the Assembly’s majority leader Julio Borges. “We’re not looking to double down on the same policies that got us into this crisis. What we need is real change.”

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