Venezuela’s changing its time zone to save electricity

Venezuela’s president has a new plan to address the country’s energy problems: change the time zone.

“I’m going to modify the time zone in Venezuela starting on May 1 to help save electricity,” Maduro said in a national address on Thursday, according to Bloomberg News.

He didn’t say whether time will spring forward or fall backward, but added that he will explain the plan in the coming days.

For what it’s worth, his predecessor Hugo Chavez changed the time zone by 30 minutes back in December 2007.

Maduro also announced that 15 shopping malls in the country will be subject to electricity rationing, adding that they failed to supply their own generators, despite being told to do so five years ago, according to Reuters.

And, on top of all that, he declared Monday, April 18 a holiday — also in an effort to save energy.

These latest decrees follow several other unorthodox strategies to save energy. Maduro previously declared that public workers will have all Fridays off through May, forced a week-long break for Easter, and, according to Reuters, “raised eyebrows by urging women to cut usage of hair dryers.”

Currently, many people in Venezuela are suffering from water and electricity cuts amid a prolonged drought.

The country’s largest hydroelectric dam, the Guri dam complex, which provides nearly two-thirds of the country’s power needs and 75% of the power to the capital city Caracas, has seen water levels drop to record lows.

“If water levels at the dam fall below 240 meters above sea level, the government may have to shut down the plant to avoid damaging turbines — a move that would inevitably lead to increased rationing,” Bloomberg’s Andrew Rosati and Jose Orozco reported. “According to the latest official figures, the level currently stands at about 243 meters.”

In the larger scheme of things, things in Venezuela have not been particularly great as its economy has been crushed by lower oil prices. The country relies on the commodity for about 95% of its export revenue.

IMF figures suggest that Venezuela’s GDP contracted by a record 10% in 2015 and is set to decline 8% in 2016. Inflation is expected to rise from a world high of 275% in 2015 to a mind-blowing 720% in 2016.

Given the situation, many economists and analysts think that the country is looking at another rough year.

“Perhaps no country in OPEC has suffered such a severe economic shock amid the collapse in oil prices as Venezuela,” wrote RBC Capital Markets’ Helima Croft back in February.

“Given these severe headwinds, we believe that Venezuela’s economic fortunes — and its ability to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe — will largely hinge on whether China continues to open its checkbook to the country this year,” Croft added.

Check out the full story at Bloomberg.

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