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Venezuela rules out imminent devaluation

Venezuelan currency is seen in this November 30, 2011 image taken in Caracas, Venezuela

The Venezuelan government denied Friday it planned to devalue its currency, despite a shortage of dollars and euros that has fueled demand on the black market.

"A devaluation is not on the table," said Rafael Ramirez, the newly appointed vice president in charge of economic policy who has also long served as oil minister.

"We have enough foreign currency to ensure our economy performs well," he told reporters, saying Venezuela has reserves of $30.5 billion.

Ramirez was speaking at the headquarters of state oil giant PDVSA, which he presides and which accounts for 96 percent of the country's foreign revenues.

He blasted private media for launching an "economic war" against Venezuela by warning of imminent deflation and suggesting the economy was on the verge of collapse.

The decrease in international reserves of the Central Bank, which closed the quarter at $21.5 billion, is due to a drop in gold prices in international markets, Ramirez said.

He said the reserves would return to their "optimal" level by the end of the year.

Under currency controls first set by the late president Hugo Chavez, the bolivar's official rate currently stands at 6.3 to the dollar, a figure that increases sevenfold on the black market.

In February, Venezuela devalued the Bolivar by 32 percent against the US dollar, its fifth currency devaluation in a decade.

Venezuela is South America's largest oil exporter and has the world's largest proven reserves.

Its oil transactions are dollar-denominated, so with any formal or de facto devaluation, the bolivar value of those sales rises, boosting state revenues on paper.