Venezuela’s Central Bank introduced a “sovereign calculator” app this week to help people work out the value of the country’s new currency denominations.
As noted by Bloomberg, the app converts the Venezuelan bolívar into dictator Nicolás Maduro’s new invention, the “sovereign bolívar,” which appears to have the same value as the original currency but with fewer zeroes at the end. As Maduro did not explain the exchange rate for the new currency or what the value is tethered to other than yet another made-up currency, the “petro,” most Venezuelans have spent the week without any understanding of the value of their money in the new system. The app has already received 5,000 on Android’s Google Play store and plenty of five-star reviews for simplifying the process.
The “sovereign bolívar” slashes five zeroes off the country’s currency. In addition to the new currency, Maduro also announced a 60-fold increase in the national minimum wage.
“The Sovereign Calculator, a tool for everyone and all Venezuelans, is the best ally people will have to understand and assimilate the monetary re-denomination process,” the central bank wrote on Twitter. “Download it now!”
La Calculadora Soberana una herramienta para todas y todos los venezolanos, es el mejor aliado que tendrá el pueblo para entender y asimilar el proceso de reconversión monetaria.#CalculadoraSoberana #BolívarSoberano
— Banco Central de Venezuela (@BCV_ORG_VE) August 23, 2018
The developers behind the app, Comunicación Digital VE, have produced other apps supportive of the Maduro regime. Such apps include the games “Super Bolivar,” “Todo Chavez,” and “Super Nico,” all of which are intended to whip up support for Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chávez, as well as arouse patriotic feeling around the independence leader Simon Bolivar.
The currency changes are expected to push inflation further out of control. Economists from the International Monetary Fund warned that inflation will exceed one million percent by the end of the year, meaning the highest denomination note currently worth $6 will be worth just $0.20 by then.
Such hyperinflation is the main cause behind the country’s economic and humanitarian crisis. Many people are still living off pay packets of under two ($2) dollars a month. Millions of people across the country are suffering from malnutrition and in need of urgent medical care amid a drastic scarcity of basic resources such as food and medicine.
The Maduro’s reforms have also led to the closure of many local businesses, many of which can no longer afford to pay their employees the new minimum wage of around $30 a month. The government has announced that it will cover minimum wage hikes for private businesses for up to 90 days as they adjust to inflation but has demanded that they do not increase their prices as a result.