By Ezequiel Minya
CARACAS—Venezuela’s finance minister assured lawmakers Tuesday that the country was poised to handle sliding oil prices and wouldn’t default on its debt, while proposing a 35% increase in the 2015 budget.
“It’s important to emphasize that we are prepared to deal with whatever scenario that presents itself with the price of petroleum,” Rodolfo Marco Torres said.
Venezuela, which depends on oil for 96% of its export revenue, has seen the price for its crude slide to $77.65 a barrel, the lowest since late 2010 and a drop of $15 since late September.
A scarcity of dollars has spurred shortages of basic goods in the import-dependent country and made investors increasingly nervous. Oil rich but cash strapped, Venezuela carries a total of $67.4 billion in debt issued by the government and state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, also known as PdVSA.