August 4, 2017 / 12:41 AM / in a year

Venezuela currency down 18 pct as constituent assembly set be installed

CARACAS, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s bolivar currency tumbled 18 percent against the U.S. dollar on Thursday on the black market, ahead of the inauguration of a legislative superbody that the opposition says will give President Nicola Maduro sweeping new powers.

The currency data, provided by the widely-tracked but opaque website DolarToday, show the bolivar fell just under 60 percent to 17,981 bolivars per dollar over the last month as countries around the world urged Maduro to back off the idea of electing a “constituent assembly”.

The vote, boycotted by the opposition, was held on Sunday.

The new body, to be inaugurated on Friday, will have broad powers, including that of re-writing the constitution.

Maduro says the new assembly will bring peace to the oil-rich but economically-ailing country, after four months of opposition street protests that have left more than 120 people dead.

The currency’s decline means that Venezuela’s minimum wage is now worth just $1.50 per week, despite numerous hikes by the government in recent months. Inflation is in triple digits, exacerbated by the currency’s fall as well as a rapid rise in money supply — up 10 percent in just one week last month.

A thousand dollars of local currency purchased when Maduro came to power in April 2013 would now be worth just $1.34. (Reporting by Girish Gupta and Alexandra Ulmer, writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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