Venezuela plans new measures to improve dollar supply

By Marianna Parraga

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela has more fiscal measures coming to improve the supply of dollars within a system of strict currency controls introduced years ago by the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, a senior minister said on Wednesday.

Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez told reporters that officials would continue to implement measures approved by Chavez during his last weeks of cancer treatment in Cuba.

"There is a group of measures approved by commander Chavez in Havana in a thick document and a whole series of actions we are going to take," Ramirez said.

"They have nothing to do with the election," he said, referring to an upcoming April 14 vote in the OPEC country to choose a successor to Chavez.

Economists expect the government to create a system through which people and businesses can access U.S. dollars, beyond the single currency board that sells a restricted amount at a price of 6.3 bolivars to the dollar.

The dollar trades at about five times that rate on the black market, to the consternation of the private sector.

"We will create another marker for the dollar to combat speculation," Ramirez said.

"There's an attack against our currency."

Before Chavez died, interim leader Nicolas Maduro began implementing various economic measures, including a devaluation and a change to the system of oil windfall taxes.

Before the devaluation, the Central Bank ran a secondary official system to sell dollars to Venezuelans, but that was scrapped when the main rate was changed to 6.3 from 4.3.

Maduro, who is being closely watched by financial markets for any details of economic measures, said the government would "create a complementary system completely different to those that have existed thus far" to bolster the official foreign exchange system.

He said the new system would be regulated by the state, take into account real market needs, and allow "different economic agents to take part so the economy works."

"It is ready, there are a few details left to sort out," he said in a television interview. "We hope to announce and activate it very soon and involve all sectors."

(Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Simon Gardner and Lisa Shumaker)