UPDATE 1-Shortage-hit Venezuelans scratch heads over complex devaluation

viernes 13 de febrero de 2015 18:08 GYT

(Adds new exchange rate, paragraph 5)

By Brian Ellsworth and Corina Pons

CARACAS Feb 13 (Reuters) - Venezuelans puzzled over the impact of a complicated currency devaluation and fretted that dire product shortages in the OPEC nation's recession-hit economy would not go away.

President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government this week launched a 70 percent devaluation via a new "free floating" currency system known as Simadi, the third of three-tier exchange controls created by his predecessor Hugo Chavez.

"They're doing this because they don't have any money," said a man who gave his name only as Felix, and who said he was 83.

"This is not going to solve the problem," said Felix as he stood in a senior citizens' line with about 50 other people to buy rice and coffee at a Caracas supermarket. "We're going to keep waiting in line to buy anything we need."

The Simadi system on Friday posted an exchange rate of 174 bolivars per dollar, but state officials insist most of the country's foreign exchange will be sold at two preferential rates: 6.3 for essential goods such as food staples, and 12 for other sectors.

The country's central bank administers dollars at those two rates, but importers complain that allocations are limited, often delayed and require overwhelming paperwork.

Dollars on the black market fetch 190 bolivars.   Continuación...