By Alex Matthews For Daily Mail
First no toilet paper, now no phones and TV: Cash-strapped Venezuela faces yet more shortages in day-to-day basics as global drop in oil prices makes dollars scarce.
- South American nation is heavily dependent on its petrol and oil industry
- Government say revenue went from $37.2bn in 2014 to $12.6bn this year
- President Nicolas Maduro owes telecoms and cable firms $700million
- Firms can’t pay afford to pay their suppliers resulting in loss of services
Venezuela faces yet more shortages in day-to-day basics as the global drop in oil prices causes a cash crisis in the country.
People in the South American nation have already suffered daily, unscheduled water and electricity cuts and now many are going without the use of television and phone-lines.
Venezuela is heavily dependent on the sale of petrol and the negative change in the market has drastically effected its debt-ridden government.
Ministers say oil revenue went from $37.2bn in 2014 to $12.6bn this year, while President Nicolas Maduro owes private telecoms and cable firms $700million.
The mammoth debt means companies cannot pay their international suppliers, resulting in services in certain parts of the country being cut.
To make things worse, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica has announced it will temporarily suspend its long distance phone service for calls to countries such as the United States, Spain, Mexico, Italy, Brazil, Colombia and Panama, this week.
Mobile phone company Digitel, which is privately owned, has also halted long distance calling services and international roaming since April 9, because it cannot reach an agreement with providers on new payment timetables.
While the idea of not being able to make calls is bad enough, other Venezuelans have also been unable to watch their favourite shows.
State-run television company, Cantv, has stopped broadcasting as it says it must review contracts with providers of both local and international content.
Subscriber Isael Gonzalez, 46, said: ‘For two weeks now, I have lost six of my favorite channels.
‘They were the ones showing movies and cartoons – so I decided to unplug the whole thing. What use is it if the channels I like are off air?’
Drisley Petaquero, 36, also said several channels had been cut from her father’s Directv pay-TV service.
She said: ‘Especially the ones showing comics – there used to be five and now there are just two’
‘He complained to the company and they told him they were performing maintenance work.’
The state regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission, admits there is a problem blames the country’s financial crisis.
Phone firms are desperate to raise their rates in order to recoup cash and industry sources say Telefonica’s mobile branch Movistar won a 35 percent rise, with inflation at 181 percent, last year.
While phone and TV firms are in chaos, Maduro said that from May 1, he planned to change Venezuela’s time scheme in a bid to save the country’s energy.
In a further effort to save electricity, he also decreed Monday a holiday, on top of a Tuesday national anniversary.
The president had already given public workers Fridays off, and raised eyebrows by urging women to cut usage of hair dryers.
The power problems have added to suffering from the world’s highest inflation, shortages of basic goods such as toilet paper, and lengthy lines at shops around the nation.
The opposition coalition is trying to oust Maduro via street protests or a referendum to end his six-year term.
One opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, said the president was giving holidays not because of the power situation but to delay the formal steps needed to trigger a referendum.
‘He will end in the rubbish-bin of political history,’ Capriles scoffed on Twitter. ‘As he has never liked working, he wants the whole country to be like that.’