Russia Says Cash-Strapped Venezuela Wants an Adviser, Not Money

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s cash-starved government isn’t looking for money from Russia, just economic advice, Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak said.

“Our partners well understand that, given problematic relations” with existing debts, “the question of new loans doesn’t arise,” Storchak told reporters Friday in Moscow after returning from a visit to Caracas. “The Venezuelan side is behaving very carefully in this regard.”

Instead, Venezuelan officials asked for regular consultations and “they even want to have a Russian adviser in the government” to help evaluate reforms and “create a climate conducive for mutual investment relations,” he said.

Storchak was part of a Russian delegation to Venezuela that met this week with officials from the Finance Ministry and the central bank as well as management of Petroleos de Venezuela SA. The oil-rich Latin American nation is reeling from a brutal economic collapse and the impact of U.S. sanctions and low crude prices. Russia maintains close ties with the leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro and gave it a lifeline in the form of a $3.15 billion debt-rescheduling a year ago.

Venezuela has prepared a “decent” economic program to help stabilize the budget, promote growth and “restore prosperity,” said Storchak, though it’s up to more senior Russian officials to decide whether to send an adviser. Venezuela may also have asked the Chinese government to provide a consultant, he said.

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