Hugo Chavez announced the Venezuelan
government is working on the launch of an identity card
incorporating debit functions.

The card, called Cedula del Buen
(Certificate of Good Living), is to be issued by
state-controlled Banco de Venezuela, Banco del Tesoro and Banco
Bicentario, and will be linked to a savings account.

Cardholders can make transactions in Abastos
Bicentarios stores, a chain of government supermarkets. They will
also be able to make purchases at state-run travel agency
Venezolana de Turismo, according to public banking minister
Humberto Ortega.

Users will receive discounts for using
the card, though Chavez did not provide any further details while
announcing the product’s launch on a tour of a commune in

The card has been criticised in the regional
media and by economists because it favours the public sector.
Customers of Banco de Venezuela are largely government employees
and wages earned on the card are only able to be spent in
government-run stores. It could be a precursor to a ration card, a
product already used in Cuba, and used to subsidise food