World Economy

Venezuela Ends 2-Day Work Week

Venezuela Ends 2-Day Work WeekVenezuela Ends 2-Day Work Week

Venezuela’s socialist government has eased a nationwide energy-saving program, bringing an end to a controversial two-day work week that was introduced in April for nearly three million public sector workers.

Electricity Minister Luis Motta said that thanks to rising waters at the Guri reservoir, which supplies two-thirds of the OPEC country’s electricity, state workers would return to work until 1:00pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, Reuters reported.

Weekend electricity rationing would also end, and schools—which had been closing on Fridays as another energy-saving move—would return to opening for the whole week, Motta said. “We are winning!” he posted on Twitter.

Officials said the measures were an emergency response to drought this year and have helped reduce energy consumption in Venezuela, a nation of 30 million people.

However, critics including the opposition coalition slammed the moves, saying closing schools for one day a week prejudiced children, and sending state employees home made no difference because they would simply use appliances elsewhere.

They say the socialist government is to blame for electricity shortages because of corruption, lack of investment and poor management, rather than the El Nino weather phenomenon.

Power and water cuts in recent months have added to the hardships of Venezuelans, already enduring a brutal economic slowdown, shortages of basics from milk to medicines, soaring prices and long lines at shops.

A kilo of pasta gets you a packet of diapers. A bag of flour buys a bottle of shampoo. Short on basic supplies, Venezuelans have reverted to ancient shopping habits: bartering whatever they have.

Venezuela’s economy has plunged in line with the price of the crude oil exports on which it relies, as the government’s state-led economy sputters from shortage to shortage.