Venezuela to Keep Making International Debt Payments, Govt Says

Venezuela not only has the funds needed to make payments to bond investors due this month and next, but intends to keep making timely payments on its obligations, Finance Minister Rodolfo Marco Torres said Tuesday.

“The government will continue faithfully honoring national and international debt commitments, demonstrating the solidity and reliability of the Venezuelan state,” he said during his presentation of the 2016 budget and debt bills to the National Assembly broadcast on state television.

Venezuela has the roughly $3.5 billion ready to make the principal and interest payments due on its Petrobono 2015 this month and the PDVSA 2017 bond next month, Marco Torres, who is also economy vice president, said. Venezuela’s debt composition at year-end 2014 stood at 68 percent domestic and 32 percent international, he said, and by year-end 2015, the country will have made $13 billion in debt payments.

Marco Torres was said to have told investors in New York last month that government entities own about a quarter of the nation’s foreign bonds.

The 2016 budget calls for spending of 1.55 trillion bolivars, equal to $246 billion at the strongest exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars per dollar, and foresees 195.2 billion bolivars in indebtedness. He did not divulge estimates for inflation or gross domestic product for next year.

The budget estimates the average export price of the oil basket of $40 dollars per barrel, Marco Torres said, as the government seeks to lessen the dependence on oil income.

Venezuela depends on crude for 95 percent of its export revenue, which has tumbled as prices have tumbled. The nation and state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA have $5.8 billion in interest and foreign-debt bond principal due this year, with an additional $10.8 billion coming due in 2016, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Eurasia expects the country to service its debt this year with a 60 percent probability of a default in 2016.

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