Venezuelan Finance Minister Arturo Sosa is scheduled to meet in New York today with a 12-member advisory group of bankers to review recent economic measures and discuss its strategy to refinance the country's approximately $10 billion in short-term foreign debt, banking sources said.
Sosa will present the bankers with projections showing that Venezuela, in the wake of an expected $3 billion reduction in petroleum revenue, could trim an expected $4 billion deficit in its current accounts balance to around $2 billion by cutting imports to about $9 billion in 1983 from $13 billion last year. Because of the OPEC price and production agreements, Venezuela now expects to receive approximately $13.4 billion in oil revenue, down from an initially projected $16.2 billion.
Sosa will tell the bankers the country's plans to bring the deficit under control hinge on a successful refinancing of the public sector short-term debt, banking sources say. Venezuela, which has declared a moratorium on principal payments on maturing public debt until July 1, still plans to pay approximately $3.5 billion in interest on its estimated $27 billion public debt, the sources said. They did not, however, expect the country to ask banks for fresh injections of money.
Five weeks ago, to stop the drain on the country's approximately $11 billion foreign reserves, Venezuela imposed exchange controls for the first time in 18 years and partially devalued the country's currency, the bolivar. It also asked the International Monetary Fund to hasten its annual inspection visit to Venezuela.
Sosa has told bankers that Venezuela could draw on the $1.2 billion it holds in the IMF without the organization imposing conditions. However, banking sources that say many banks want Venezuela to agree to an IMF regimen before committing themselves to the country's refinancing effort. IMF sources say that, to date, Venezuela has not asked for nor has the IMF submitted a stabilization plan.