CARACAS – President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday extended the period during which 100-bolivar bills will be allowed to continue circulating for a second time until Jan. 20.
“I want to announce that I have decided to extend by executive order the circulation of 100-bolivar bills until Jan. 20,” Maduro said in a nationwide address, adding that the move was aimed at fighting Colombian criminal organizations.
The government originally announced that 100-bolivar bills, the largest bill in circulation, would be removed from the money supply on Jan. 2, when a new supply of larger denomination bills would arrive in the country.
On Dec. 12, Maduro ordered the central bank to withdraw all 100-bolivar bills from circulation to stop Colombian organized crime groups supposedly stockpiling currency to destabilize the economy.
The Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV) had announced earlier in the day on Thursday that it was adding 10-, 50- and 100-bolivar coins to the money supply.
“This measure will make the payment system more efficient and facilitate commercial transactions,” the BCV said in a statement.
A merchant in downtown Caracas showed EFE the new coins on Wednesday after exchanging paper currency for them for a man who obtained the new coins from a bank.
The coins have an image of Venezuela’s liberator, Simon Bolivar, on the front and the denomination, issue year and the words “Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela” along with the national shield on the back.
Earlier this month, the BCV said it would introduce new bills in larger denominations to address a sharp currency devaluation caused by an inflation rate that some economists peg at between 10,000 percent and 16,000 percent since the last currency overhaul in 2008.
Venezuela’s new currency will be issued in denominations of 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000 and 500 bolivars, with 100-, 50- and 10-bolivar coins, the BCV said.