Venezuela approves central bank reform law

Venezuelan lawmakers gave initial approval late Tuesday 21 June to a bill that would allow President Hugo Chavez to access up to $5 billion in reserves held by the central bank.

President Chavez dismissed criticism of the bill which would allow central bank funds to be used by the government for spending or paying off debt.

Under the proposed reform, officials would determine an "optimum level" of reserves each year, with any excess transferred to a government-controlled development fund for

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