The injection of public spending into scholarships and increases in wages and pensions boosts consumption at a time when production of state-run companies and staples such as milk and sugar falls. Therefore, there is no alternative but to resort to imports to prevent widespread shortages.
In his year-end report, President of the Central Bank of Venezuela Nelson Merentes stated that in 2012, imports totaled USD 56.35 billion, the highest amount in the last 16 years. The number amounts to 59% of the dollar revenues Venezuela obtained from exports.
Venezuela’s economy is going through a cycle where imports are higher than dollar revenues because the price of oil, which provides 96% of foreign currency revenue, has stabilized.
In 2011, imports accounted for 50% of foreign currency earnings from exports. In 2008, which until now had been the record year, they amounted to 53%.
Dollars from exports not only are used to pay for imports but also to meet other commitments in foreign currency.
While the country’s situation is not critical in this respect, the gap between imports, services purchased abroad and transfers, and the foreign currency revenue from exports, which is technically known as the balance-of-payments current account, fell 41%, from USD 24.61 billion in 2011 to USD 14.56 billion in 2012.