SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele announced in a taped message played at a Bitcoin conference in Miami on Saturday that he would send a bill to the country’s Congress next week, which would make cryptocurrency legal tender in the Central American nation.
The 39-year-old president, who has approval ratings of over 90 percent and made Twitter his preferred form of communication, described it as an idea that could move El Salvador forward.
“Next week I will be putting a bill to Congress that will make Bitcoin legal tender in El Salvador,” said Bukele. “In the short term this will create jobs and help enable thousands outside the formal economy and in the medium term financial inclusion. In the long term, we hope that this small decision can help us steer humanity at least a tiny bit in the right direction.”
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The US dollar is the official currency of El Salvador. About a quarter of El Salvador’s citizens live in the United States, and last year they sent home more than $ 6 billion in remittances despite the pandemic.
Bukele’s New Ideas party announced in the new Congress, which will take place on Jan.
Further details of the plan were not disclosed. But Bukele noted in subsequent messages on Twitter that Bitcoin “could be the fastest growing way to send $ 6 billion a year in remittances.”
He said a large chunk of these money transfers are currently lost to intermediaries and could benefit more than a million low-income families from Bitcoin.
He also said that 70 percent of El Salvador’s population do not have a bank account and work in the informal economy. Bitcoin could improve financial inclusion, he said.
Due to his high popularity and the dominance of his party in the February 28 elections, Bukele has concentrated his power. The majority of his party in Congress ousted the judges of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court on May 1st. They then replaced the Attorney General.
They had criticized some of Bukele’s more drastic measures during the pandemic, including a mandatory home stay order and containment centers detaining those who violated the policy.