Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Venezuela 'to withdraw from IMF' and World Bank

Venezuela 'to withdraw from IMF'
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he wants to pull his country out of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

In a speech to mark 1 May, Mr Chavez said he wanted the move to take effect as soon as possible.

As the country has settled its IMF debt, the withdrawal is largely a symbolic gesture, correspondents say.

President Chavez also announced an almost 20% increase in the minimum monthly wage.

"We don't need to be going up to Washington... we are going to get out," Mr Chavez said.

"We are going to withdraw before they go and rob us," he went on.

The president said he had ordered Finance Minister Rodrigo Cabezas to begin formal proceedings to withdraw from the two international bodies.

Mr Chavez said Venezuela would seek repayment of money owed to it by the IMF and World Bank - presumably a reference, correspondents say, to contributions which member countries pay.

"We still have a few bucks there," he said.

President Chavez has spoken of his ambition to set up what he calls a Bank of the South, backed by Venezuelan oil revenues, which would finance projects in South America.

Ecuador, led by another left-wing president, Rafael Correa, has also spoken of leaving the IMF, and recently expelled World Bank representatives from the country.