Venezuela exits IMF and World Bank

Withdrawal part of plans to create an alternative South American lending bank.

    Chavez, far right, has pledged alleigance to other
    left-wing Latin American leaders [AFP]

    Alternative

     

    Chavez intends to set up a new lender run by Latin American nations which he has called the 'Bank of the South'.

     

    He has pledged to support it with Venezuela's oil revenues.

     

    Separately, Chavez also offered on Sunday to contribute $250m to a new regional co-operation fund.

     

    Since Chavez first took office in 1999, Venezuela has reduced its co-operation with the organisations.

     

    Chavez blames the two organisations' economic programmes of tight budget control, privatisation and open markets for continued poverty across Latin America.

     

    After years of strong oil prices, Venezuela said it paid off its final debts to the World Bank this month.

     

    On Monday, Chavez announced a 20 per cent minimum wage rise and a gradual reduction in the working day to six hours, as part of a rejection of IMF and World Bank policies.

     

    More independence

     

    Venezuela is one of several countries, particularly in Latin America, that have reduced their dependence on the IMF and World Bank in the last few years.

     

    Other Latin American countries are also distancing themselves from international lenders.

     

    Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua's president said on Sunday that he hopes to "get out of that prison" of IMF debt and that "we are negotiating with the Fund to leave the Fund."

     

    Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, said last week that Chavez was damaging his country "economically and politically".

     

    As part of his continuing programme of nationalisation, Chavez on Tuesday will lead a rally to take over the operations of oil projects in the Orinoco Belt, currently run by some of the world's largest companies.

     

    "The importance of this is that we are taking back control of the Orinoco Belt which the president rightly calls the world's biggest crude reserve," said Marco Ojeda, an oil union leader, before the planned rally.

     

    Chavez has promised to take at least 60 per cent of the four projects, valued at more than $30bn.

     

    US companies ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Britain's BP, Norway's Statoil and France's Total have agreed to obey a decree to transfer operational control.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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