Venezuela imposes two-day week

A customer uses her phone's light to look at a dress at a store during a power cut in San Cristobal, in the state of Tachira, Venezuela, April 25, 2016Image copyright

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Shops have been operating without electricity for several hours a day because of power cuts introduced this year

Venezuela’s government has imposed a two-day working week for public sector workers as a temporary measure to help it overcome a serious energy crisis.

Vice-President Aristobulo Isturiz announced that civil servants should turn up for work only on Mondays and Tuesdays until the crisis was over.

Venezuela is facing a major drought, which has dramatically reduced water levels at its main hydroelectric dam.

But the opposition has accused the government of mismanaging the crisis.

The measures announced on national television by Mr Isturiz affect two million public sector workers.

“There will be no work in the public sector on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, except for fundamental and necessary tasks,” he said.

Clocks go forward

The government has already adopted a number of measures to try to deal with the crisis.

In February, shopping centres were told to reduce their opening hours and generate their own energy.

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Electricity Minister Luis Motta looks at the massive Guri Dam, virtually dry because of the drought

Earlier this week, the government put the clocks forward by half an hour to reduce demand for electricity in the early evening.

Last week, it announced it was introducing power cuts for four hours a day.

President Nicolas Maduro says Venezuela has been badly hit by the El Nino weather phenomenon.

He believes the situation will return to normal when it starts raining again.

The power shortages have deepened the country’s serious economic crisis.

Many businessmen and opposition politicians blame the energy crisis and shortages of basic goods on government economic mismanagement.

They say tough currency controls introduced in 2003 by the late president, Hugo Chavez, have only made this worse.

But Venezuela’s economy has also been hit by a sharp fall in the price of its main export, oil.

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