CARACAS, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday declared an end to the oil-dependent rentier state, saying his government has worked to diversify the nation's economy.
"2016 was the last year of the oil rentier state, it's over," Maduro told business leaders attending the opening of the 2017 Venezuela Power Expo, being held in the capital Caracas through the weekend.
Oil-rich Venezuela was for years driven exclusively by revenue from oil exports, until plummeting prices in 2014 forced the country to diversify its industrial production.
"We are transiting through the first year of the new economic model and new economic era ... that all of the country's productive forces are building," said Maduro.
Venezuela's government also plans to change a currency control policy that places tight limits on the business sector's access to the U.S. dollars needed to pay for imports.
However, the private sector should help combat the thriving black market currency exchange business, said Maduro, adding "together we have to capture, distribute and invest each dollar" to bolster the economy.
"We will defend the country's sovereignty, you look after production," said Maduro.
The expo is a showcase for some 300 Venezuelan companies, including private firms, state enterprises and public-private joint ventures.