In times of crisis it is the government’s job to make sure that its country does not turn to panic and chaos but remain calm and collected through challenging times. We see governments paying off huge chunks of salaries to people who lost their job, banks holding off credit payments, etc.
The Venezuelan government saw the pandemic as an opportunity to introduce its national cryptocurrency Petro with giving one to every doctor in the country. This way the cryptocurrency will be well off boosted throughout Venezuela. The government announced on its social media that this is a gesture to say “thank you” for the meds’ hard work to help deter spread of coronavirus.
The distribution of the “Doctors of the Motherland” Petro bonus will be happening through a platform called” Patria System” which the government is using for giving bonuses without using traditional banking.
This is a well-known practice of Nicolás Maduro’s government and such distribution of money was criticized but now adopted by countries such as US, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador.
The Maduro government also gave out benefits with fiat currency to those who cannot work during the pandemic, known as “Stay at Home” and “Discipline and Solidarity” bonuses at the end of March.
So, what does a Petro equal to? What doctors actually receive?
With most cryptocurrencies people can use them for shopping, trading, online casino or sports betting, and many other activities, as they have been around the market for a while and have a good value.
However, economists believe that Petro can become a double-edged sword for the country. With improving the country’s economy in a way, Petro might strengthen the authoritarian regime, according to the director of the Sound Money Project of the American Institute for Economic Research, William J. Luther.
He explains in an article for AIER that Petro can improve the dynamics of doing business worldwide but locally for Venezuelans it can be used for “internal monitoring”.
This can be possible since the government will gain real-time access to all financial information in the country, according to Luther. He elaborated:
“By making it easier to avoid sanctions, the petro enables the government to regain some of its lost oil revenues. By making it easier to monitor domestic transactions, the petro aids efforts to stamp out political opposition.”
Of course, all of this is just a theory for the future and nothing is certain for time being.
1 Petro is currently worth $58.93 (U.S. dollar) but in the Amberes exchange the bonus can be redeemed for around 0.0026 BTC (about $18) and at Localbitcoins it comes to around 0.0038 BTC.
As you can see the crypto is not worth that much and currently not being accepted as good as the government hoped. It is reported that tests for blockchain integration in the banking infrastructure have also been delayed until further notice.
Hopefully doctors will stash their Petros away hoping that one day they might be a cryptocurrency of value. Right now, they have plenty on their hands with fighting a deadly virus.
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