We need a financial rescue plan for Venezuela: Colombia

Bogota asks agencies to prepare for a post-Maduro situation

Updated - February 11, 2018 06:12 pm IST

Published - February 10, 2018 09:29 pm IST - New York

Mauricio Cardenas, Colombia’s Finance Minister.

Mauricio Cardenas, Colombia’s Finance Minister.

Colombia has contacted international lending agencies about devising a financial rescue plan worth up to $60 billion for neighbouring Venezuela if President Nicholas Maduro leaves power, Colombia’s Finance Minister said in an interview on Friday.

Hyperinflation and severe recession in oil-rich Venezuela are prompting Venezuelans to flee over the border to Colombia, now about 2,000 a day, Colombian Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas said.

International support

Officials from the International Monetary Fund, Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank are just beginning to understand the impact of the exodus, he said.

“What happens when Maduro falls? We should not improvise. There should be a plan because Venezuela will require financial support,” Mr. Cardenas said.

He estimated that Venezuela would need about $60 billion in loans under a new government and economic policies. Colombia wants to participate in international lending to Venezuela and take a more direct role in providing financing to help Venezuela rebuild its economy.

“We as a government in Colombia are willing to be part, not just of that conversation and of that plan, but also to provide financing for that transition,” Mr. Cardenas said. Colombia would benefit from a recovery in exports to Venezuela, he said. Mr. Cardenas said cross-border trade a decade ago was close to $7 billion a year.

Mr. Maduro, whose approval ratings are low, is seeking re-election in a vote that must be held by the end of April. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier this month raised the prospect that Venezuela’s military could oust Mr. Maduro.

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