The launch of a new payment system in Venezuela hasn’t gone smoothly, with citizens facing long lines for gasoline in border states.
According to Reuters, President Nicolas Maduro has claimed that the new system will reduce the smuggling of fuel, as well as lead to the country finally being able to charge international prices for gasoline, which he says will come by October. It is estimated Venezuela loses at least $5 billion per year because it doesn’t sell gasoline at international prices.
To change that, the government launched a pilot program that began on Tuesday (September 4) in eight states to provide gas stations with wireless devices that use a state-backed identification document — called the Fatherland Card — to be able to complete fuel transactions. The new system will provide a subsidy to drivers that use the card, reimbursing them for gasoline purchases once new fuel costs take effect.
But at many gas stations, drivers and service station employees reported that the new machines were either not installed or not working properly, causing long lines and frustrated drivers.
The Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Last month it was reported that Venezuelans were jamming stores and gas stations over worries than an overhaul of monetary policies could create financial havoc, preventing even basic shopping.
While the government thinks that the new monetary policies will bring more stability to the country, critics contend it wouldn’t do anything to stop prices from soaring further. In July, inflation reached 82,700 percent in the country.
Maduro also wants to launch its own cryptocurrency, Petro, which is backed by the OPEC nation’s oil, gold and mineral reserves.
“This will allow us to advance toward new forms of international financing for the economic and social development of our country,” Maduro said at the time.
The move doesn't have universal support, though, with opposition leaders saying that Maduro will never get the congressional approval he needs to move forward with the plan.
“It’s Maduro being a clown. This has no credibility,” opposition lawmaker and economist Angel Alvarado said.