[BBC] – Venezuela has issued new larger denomination banknotes in response to the country’s soaring rate of inflation.
The three notes, ranging from 500 to 20,000-bolivars, have entered circulation with the aim of making paying for essentials easier. Inflation in Venezuela is forecast to reach 1,600% this year.
Until now, the 100-bolivar note had been the country’s largest, worth just three US cents on the black market.
‘More of the same’
The new bills are aimed at making transactions easier for Venezuelans, who have had to carry huge book-size wads of cash to pay for basic items.
However the new 20,000-bolivar note is still worth less than $6 (£5) on the black market, which Venezuelans frequently turn to if they are unable to purchase official-rate dollars. On Monday, Venezuelans began queuing at banks and ATMs for the new notes.
“I think it is more of the same,” said one man in Caracas.
“Effectively what we are doing is putting more money on the street, attracting more inflation.”
In December, President Nicolas Maduro said the government was scrapping the 100-bolivar note in order to prevent smuggling. He said the aim was to tackle gangs which hoard Venezuelan currency abroad, a move he has previously described as part of the “economic war” being waged against his government.
Venezuelans were given only 72 hours to deposit or change the 100-bolivar notes, leading to long queues at banks. The move also led to protests and looting in parts of the country, with shops attacked and roads blocked.
The deadline was extended a number of times with the latest date for the withdrawal of the 100-bolivar note set for 20 February.