Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has moved the clocks forward half an hour to save power in his latest extreme measure to battle the deepening energy crisis gripping the country. The South American nation is suffering from an economic crisis due to tumbling oil prices coupled with a severe electricity shortage.
Maduro has attempted to alleviate the panic with a package of drastic measures that have included ordering a two-day working week for civil servants, schools to close on Fridays and shopping malls to open only half of their usual hours whilst generating their own energy.
The United Socialist Party leader has blamed the energy crisis on the weather phenomenon, El Niño, which has caused a drought in the country. The major hydroelectric Guri Dam, which supplies 65% of the country's power, are at an historic low casing widespread blackouts.
His critics say poor infrastructure and mismanagement of the country's energy sector, which was nationalised in 2007, has actually caused the crisis. They also believe that the OPEC country's populist policies, such as cut-price oil which was once as low as a penny per litre, has led to a lack of investment in infrastructure.
Science and Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza said the use of lighting and air-conditioning at night time was especially draining for the national power grid. "It will be simple to move the clock forward a half hour - this will allow us to enjoy more daylight, and it wont get dark so early," he said to the BBC.
The country is suffering from a shortage of basic goods and food which Maduro blames on an "economic war" waged by the US on Venezuela. Opposition leaders want to drive him from office with a petition hoping to cause a referendum.
The nation's largest brewer Polar was also forced to suspend its operations this week, after they claimed that the government has not released enough dollars to allow them to import malted barley which is not produced in Venezuela. Polar is the nation's largest private company brew roughly 70 per cent of the country's beer. Ministers have accused the company of exaggerating its dollar requirements.