Venezuela's Maduro decrees 2017 budget bypassing constitutional obligation
Economists warned the new budget would only generate more international mistrust of Venezuela.? Photograph: (AFP)
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro approved the government's 2017 budget by decree on Friday breaking a constitutional obligation.
In a move that could further deepen the country's economic crisis, Maduro issued the budget bypassing the opposition-led National Assembly.
"Here is the 2017 budget and debt law. May it be fulfilled. I ask for the support of the people, the military and the street," Maduro said at a signing ceremony in Caracas attended by hundreds of supporters, AFP reported.
The Venezuelan constitution requires the budget to be submitted to the opposition and approved. However, the Supreme Court ruled in Maduro's favour, bypassing the obligation.
The National Assembly, which condemned the decision, is barred by the decree from tweaking or objecting to the budget.
Venezuela's 2017 budget sees oil prices averaging $30 dollars per barrel next year, which Maduro called a conservative estimate. It allocates 73.6 per cent of spending to social programs and comes with a law to limit new government debt, AFP reported.
Economists warned the new budget would only generate more international mistrust of Venezuela.
"This budget has no legal validity, and expenses, commitments and contracts made under it could be disregarded," said constitutional law expert Jose Ignacio Hernandez.
The opposition is trying to call a referendum on removing Maduro's from office as the country faces severe economic crisis and food shortages. Seven in 10 Venezuelans want a change in government, according to a recent opinion poll, reported Reuters.
(WION with inputs from agencies)