Caracas (AFP)

Venezuela will apply from Monday June 1 higher prices for gasoline, announced Saturday President Nicolas Maduro, while it was so far almost free in this oil country.

Despite having huge reserves, Venezuela, whose production has collapsed, is currently experiencing a serious shortage of fuels, further exacerbated by the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on the country's economic life.

"We have decided that 200 service stations could freely sell this product at the international price," said the socialist president, thus ending the Venezuelan state's monopoly on the sale of fuels.

"The international price we have set is 50 cents a liter of gasoline," said Maduro in an address to the Presidential Palace of Miraflores in Caracas.

The president also announced the creation of a subsidy system based on 5,000 bolivars ($ 0.025) per liter, which will allow the purchase of 120 liters per month for passenger cars and 60 liters for motorcycles.

Public passenger and freight transport "will have a 100% subsidy," said Maduro. For this sector, "diesel is 100% subsidized," also said Venezuelan Minister of Petroleum, Tareck El Aissami.

The announcement of the new provisions on fuel prices comes a few days after the arrival in Venezuela of Iranian oil tankers who came to deliver gasoline and other petroleum products to the socialist government of Mr. Maduro, of which Tehran is one allies.

Four of the five tankers sent by Iran have already docked in the three main refineries in Venezuela. The arrival of these ships has caused a new episode of tension between Caracas and Washington, which denounces Tehran's support for Mr. Maduro.

"At this hour, the more than 1,500 service stations in the country are in the process of being supplied, we have sufficient fuel reserves to take this measure," said Maduro, thanking Iran for its support.

Venezuela's production has collapsed in recent years. The Chavista government attributes this collapse to the economic sanctions which the United States, hostile to Mr. Maduro which they consider illegitimate, impose on Venezuela. Experts question management errors and the absence of investment in the petroleum sector.

© 2020 AFP