Venezuela President Maduro names new central bank chief | News | DW | 23.01.2017
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Venezuela President Maduro names new central bank chief

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro named Ricardo Sanguino as the country's central bank chief. Venezuela is facing an economic crisis with steep inflation, malfunctioning automatic cash machines, and product shortages.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced during his weekly broadcast Sunday that economist Ricardo Sanguino was nominated to replace Nelson Merentes as the country's central bank chief.

"I want us to begin a new phase in the development of the Central Bank of Venezuela," Maduro said during his address.

Sanguino is a supporter of Maduro's policies.

Merentes had held the position since 2009, apart from a brief stint as finance minister in 2013. The mathematician was under intense pressure after the central bank had great difficulty releasing larger banknotes to the public.

Maduro announced the larger notes at a time of skyrocketing inflation. He also alleged that international "mafias" had stashed billions of bolivars in the previously highest denotation, 100-bolivar notes, especially across the Colombian border. Because of inflation that note was worth only a few US cents.

Listen to audio 29:59

World in Progress: Coping with Venezuela's crisis

Many automatic cash machines are still not programmed to handle the new larger denominations. The difficult release of the new bank notes was considered the last straw for Merentes. Venezuela plans to get rid of the 100-bolivar note completely in February.

Sanguino has never held a ministerial position, but has served as a legislator since 2000 and headed the National Assembly's budget commission. When asked about his thoughts on the role of the central bank, Sanguino said central banks "were the creation of the global capitalist system, which were created with a concept of autonomy that is even above the role of the head of state."

Sanguino agreed with Maduro's beliefs that Venezuela's current economic and political crisis was a result of an "economic war" led by right-wing businessmen. Inflation in Venezuela is expected to hit 1,660 percent in 2017, according to the International Monetary Fund.

kbd/se (AFP, Reuters)

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