Finance Minister Rodolfo Marco Torres said the new system would be "totally free" with "the market itself setting the exchange rate." But officials said trades would have to be made through authorized banks or exchange houses and only people with dollar-denominated bank accounts can take part.
For 70 percent of crucial imports, including medicines and other staples, the exchange rate will remain the current 6.3 bolivars per one US dollar. For the remaining 30 percent of consumer goods the rate is changing to 12 bolivars for one greenback.
The government has also been selling limited amounts of hard currency at a third rate, around 52 bolivars to the dollar, but officials say that rate will now be replaced by a more transparent system in which dealers and buyers exchange currency on a supply and demand basis.
The measure is seen by experts as an attempt by the Venezuelan authorities to deal with the towering debt deficit, which currently stands at a hefty 20 percent of the country’s GDP.