Venezuela orders two-day week to tackle energy crisis

El Nino has dried up hydropower supplies, as South American petroeconomy battered by low oil price

Caracas, Venezuela: Economy is suffering from low oil price (Flickr/Julio César Mesa)


Venezuela’s public sector has been ordered to work just two days a week to save energy.

Hydropower, which supplies two thirds of the country’s electricity, has been hit by the country’s worst drought since 1969.

President Nicolas Maduro blamed El Nino and rising global temperatures for the prolonged dry spell.

Critics said a lack of investment in aging infrastructure had contributed to the water and power shortages.

The shortened working week affects nearly a tenth of the 30 million population.

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The South American petrostate is deep in recession, hit by a slump in oil prices since mid-2014.

Reliant on hydrocarbons for 95% of export earnings, its economy has gone into a tailspin.

Last week, the administration hiked fuel prices 6,000% in a desperate bid to fill the budget hole.

Other oil producers including Saudi Arabia and Nigeria have announced reforms to reduce reliance on the volatile commodity.

In Venezuela, opposition politicians are trying to gather the 4 million signatures needed to trigger a referendum on Maduro’s leadership.

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