Venezuela’s legislators weighed in on President Nicolas Maduro’s plan for the so-called “petro” digital currency on Tuesday, declaring it illegal and open to corruption. The country’s legislature, which is controlled by Maduro’s political opponents, suggested that the scheme was little more than a plan to sell off the nation’s oil reserves. One of those lawmakers, Jorge Millan, observed:
“This is not a cryptocurrency, this is a forward sale of Venezuelan oil. It is tailor-made for corruption.”
Lawmakers also advised potential petro investors about the risks they could face if they invest in Maduro’s cryptocurrency. They suggested that the petro won’t outlive Maduro’s time in office, since they view it as an unconstitutional usurpation of the legislature’s power to approve all borrowing.
Maduro is scheduled to face voters this year, as he seeks re-election.
The petro was already likely to face stiff headwinds, as many critics have viewed it with skepticism. Experts have pointed to the government’s poor record on the economy, as the ruling party’s socialist policies have led the nation to the brink of economic ruin. Others have cited its dismal record on issues like private property rights.
The legislature’s declaration is unlikely to have much of an impact, since Maduro has largely ignored parliament's decisions since his party ceded control of the National Assembly in 2016.
According to Reuters, Maduro’s government intends to issue 100 million of its petros within the next few weeks, with each petro backed by one barrel of the country’s oil reserves.