Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez is the country’s new vice president responsible for the economy, according to a decree signed by President Nicolas Maduro published in the official Gazette distributed today.
Ramirez, who has overseen South America’s largest oil industry since 2002, replaces Finance Minister Nelson Merentes as the head of Maduro’s economic team. Spokesmen for the finance and oil ministries didn’t immediately reply to phone messages seeking comment.
Merentes is the leader of the government faction trying to move Venezuela closer to a full market economy, Barclays Plc said in a note to clients on Aug. 14. Since becoming finance minister in April, he has started new dollar auctions, met foreign investment bankers and talked to more than 5,000 businessmen in a bid to damp world-beating inflation and reduce shortages of staple goods such as sugar, toilet paper and meat.
“Although vice presidents in Venezuela don’t have any real power, the move underlines internal dynamics within the regime,” Efrain Velazquez, a partner in economic consultancy Azpurua Garcia-Palacios & Velazquez, said by phone from Caracas today.
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