Venezuela cuts power for four hours a day to save energy

Venezuela is introducing power cuts of four hours a day from next week to deal with a worsening energy crisis.

The cuts will last for 40 days as the country struggles under a severe drought limiting hydroelectric output.

It is the latest setback to Venezuela’s economy which has been hit by a sharp fall in the price of its main export, oil.

The country’s main brewer, Polar, also says it will stop production because it has no dollars to buy grain abroad.

The company, which produces 80% of the country’s beer, says 10,000 workers will be affected by the stoppage.

Announcing the restrictions on Thursday, Energy Minister Luis Motta Dominguez said the hours of suspension would be published on a daily basis in newspapers and on ministerial websites. He added that the cuts would not happen between 20:00 and midday.

Venezuela’s energy crisis has been deepening all this year, in February, shopping malls were told to reduce their opening hours and generate their own energy.

President Nicolas Maduro has accused the country’s business elite of colluding with the US to wreck the economy.

He has accused the President of Polar, Lorenzo Mendoza, of being allied to the opposition which now dominates the Venezuelan parliament against him.

Many businessmen and opposition politicians blame the energy crisis and shortages of basic goods on government economic mismanagement.

They say tough currency controls introduced in 2003 by the late president, Hugo Chavez have only made this worse.

Venezuela’s economy is in dire straits, suffering from spiralling inflation, shortages of some basic goods and dwindling revenue from oil.

The country’s almost exclusive relies on oil, the price of which has fallen sharply.

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