Venezuela, "world's worst performing economy", appoints second finance minister in a month

 
Giles Gibson
VENEZUELA-POLITICS-ECONOMY
Businessmen have been locked up for allegedly creating queues to undermine the government (Source: Getty)

Nothing says stability like burning through two finance ministers in a month.

And so it is of course hugely surprising that Venezuela - the country whose economy is in its worst state since 1940 and which recently topped a global misery index for the third year in a row - has done exactly that.

President Nicolás Maduro - the leader who has been locking up businessmen for conspiring to create long queues to undermine his government - has just appointed Miguel Perez Abad as vice president for the economy, becoming the fourth person to run Venezuela's finances in just two years.

His predecessor, 39-year-old sociology professor Luis Salas, was only brought in early last month.

In an evening television address to the nation, President Maduro blamed Salas's departure on unspecified family reasons.

But the change has prompted further criticisms of Maduro's erratic leadership.

"Maduro is adrift," opposition lawmaker and economist Jose Guerra tweeted. "Salas lasted 30 days. This is the government in chaos."

Venezuela's new economy czar will be greeted by a bulging in-tray.

The country's economy continues to be buffeted by plunging global oil prices, with the World Bank forecasting that it will contract by 4.8 per cent in 2016. Meanwhile, the IMF predict inflation could hit as much as 720 per cent this year.

Official government exchange rates put $1 at around 6 VEF, but black market exchange rates could be as high as 1000 VEF to the dollar, according to website DolarToday.

Food and medicine are becoming increasingly scarce, with long queues outside supermarkets a regular sight in the country's capital, Caracas.

Venezuela has been involved in discussions this week with Saudi Arabia, Russia and Qatar in a bid to freeze global oil output and shore up crude prices.

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