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Maduro reduces “unproductive expenses” by 20 pct. amid oil price plunge

Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro

Caracas, Dec 2 (EFE).- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday approved a 20 percent reduction in “unproductive expenses” by the government as a result of the recent plunge in the oil price and emphasized that the measure does not affect “at all” his administration’s social investment policy.

“I’ve approved the reduction of 20 percent in … unproductive expenses, which do not at all affect the social investment in (government) tasks, big projects, in the social and economic life of the country,” the president said, without providing further details, at a meeting with members of the Cabinet and businessmen at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas.

Maduro last week appointed a special presidential commission to oversee the reduction of public expenditures, and which will also review the salaries of the “top level” of government “beginning with the president of the republic.”

The head of state on Tuesday called the measure a “diet” that will help “the health of the state and the economy” by increasing savings.

He noted that the measures had been taken “to defend the markets,” with the price of petroleum closing last week at $68.08 per barrel although Venezuelan oil sold for an average price of just over $98 per barrel last year.

Oil is the central pillar of the Venezuelan economy, with 96 percent of foreign currency availability depending on the export of crude and its derivatives, although the state budget is mainly financed by the collection of domestic taxes