The government of Venezuela has started requiring all gas stations in the country to sell petrol at a discount in exchange for its controversial state-issued digital currency, the Petro.
The government announcement comes amid a general price hike for gasoline in the country, following the government’s decision to remove subsidies which had reduced the price per liter to essentially zero.
The price rise will see gasoline per liter rising to $0.50 for non-qualifying purchases, although significant discounts will be made available for those choosing to transact in Petro.
Backed by the country’s oil reserves, the Petro has been widely condemned worldwide as an attempt to evade international sanctions against the government. The digital currency has also been criticized by opposition politicians as unconstitutional, because they allege it is illegally underpinned by state assets.
Nevertheless, the government has been keen to promote use of the digital currency as an alternative to other currencies, in a bid to support its ailing sanctions-hit economy.
Under the new scheme, car owners are allocated an allowance of 120 liters per month at the $0.02 rate, while motorcyclists are entitled to 60 liters per month.
As a result, car owners can buy two full tanks for approximated $2.40—equivalent to 37% of the country’s minimum wage.
The subsidized allowance is only available to those holding a national ID card, itself a controversial scheme shunned by some Venezuelans who consider it a tool of the government’s totalitarian control of the population.
To make matters more complicated for consumers, the scheme will not accept payment through the Petro wallet app, the only wallet of its kind supporting the digital currency. Instead, payment can only be made through the country’s ‘Patria’ biometric payment system, which is not yet compatible with the app wallet.
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