CARACAS, May 19 (Reuters) - The local divisions of General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, struggling to obtain hard currency to import parts, are considering charging Venezuelans dollars for some cars, a union leader said on Tuesday.
Fewer cars are being assembled in the country, as companies struggle to buy greenbacks through 12-year-old currency controls. The local subsidiary of Ford Motor Co is launching a plan to sell cars in dollars, its workers said last week, though the company has not confirmed the plan.
“The auto assembly plants are meeting with the government to evaluate the sale of some vehicles in dollars,” Christian Pereira, president of the federation of unions that represent auto workers, said in a telephone interview.
“We as workers support this initiative. We’re concerned that if this isn’t done, the assembly plants will shut down, leaving 100,000 workers stranded.”
A spokeswoman for General Motors said the company was not commenting on the issue. Reuters was unable to immediately obtain comment from Chrysler.
Selling goods and real estate in hard currency is not uncommon in Venezuela, but was outlawed for years and is seen as a legal gray area.
The dollar-sales measure has been hotly criticized by Venezuelan consumers, who have limited access to dollars. Cars are already difficult to find due to the production problems.
The exchange control system created by late socialist leader Hugo Chavez has steadily reduced disbursement of dollars as last year’s steep slide in oil prices slashed the country’s hard currency revenue from exports. (Reporting by Eyanir Chinea, writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by David Gregorio)