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Venezuela to Issue Bills in Larger Denominations in the Midst of Currency Meltdown

Venezuela said it would start issuing higher denominations of currency as the country faces triple-digit inflation and a currency meltdown that reduced the value of the country’s largest note to 2 U.S. cents.

The central bank said in a statement Saturday that six new bills ranging from 500 to 20,000 bolivars would be added to circulation starting Dec. 15, as well as coins of 10, 50, and 100 bolivars, the Associated Press reported.

The largest bill currently in circulation is 100 bolivars.

The issuing of new bills comes as Venezuela nears economic collapse. The currency lost 67 percent of its value on the black market last month, dropping to 4,587 bolivars per U.S. dollar, according to data from Dolar Today, which tracks the black market rate based on transactions with the currency at foreign exchange houses by the border in Colombia.

The International Monetary Fund reports that inflation is expected to head into four digits next year.

Cash has become impossible to find in the country, with ATM withdrawals capped at an extremely low amount.

The national credit card system also unexpectedly froze Friday for several hours.

President Nicolas Maduro said the malfunction was due to a “cyberattack” and accused Colombian “mafias” of trying to carry out an “economic coup” against his socialist-run economy.

In a Saturday address to the media, Maduro said he was studying ways to fight against an “attack against the currency,” Bloomberg reported.

Some stores in downtown Caracas were ordered to reduce prices, according to state media.

“In this country, no one can set prices based on Dolar Today. I’m not going to permit it,” Maduro said. “Looking for resources, you don’t know all that we’re doing. In December, I’m going to take a trip, up to two trips, to finalize the resources the country needs for 2017 and 2018.”

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