CARACAS, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela on Tuesday test-launched a gasoline sales system to thwart rampant fuel smuggling, mainly into its neighbor Colombia.
"Today we are testing the payment mechanism in 44 towns in the country's border region," Communication and Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said.
The pilot program, which took effect in eight bordering states, relies on additional identification measures to ensure gasoline is being purchased by normal customers, not smugglers.
To fill up at a gas station, motorists have to present their national ID cards and register their fingerprints, as well as information of their vehicles.
On Monday, President Nicolas Maduro called for cooperation of the general public so "the new gasoline payment mechanism in border states goes well."
The pilot program will also subsidize gasoline purchases by motorists who join in, in a bid to offset the impact of possible domestic fuel price hikes in the future.
Venezuela's subsidized gasoline prices, much lower than the international levels, have generated a booming black market at the border, with smugglers buying fuel at low prices to sell for huge profits abroad.