Sicad II: Challenge accepted and … overcome? (Updated)

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infografia-sicad-III’ve been actively following Sicad II, tweeting and writing about it (here are two articles: a primer and its implications). So when SICAD II turned one month old, it was time for me to play.

Since I had to hand in some Cadivi folders, my father said “Anabella, aprovecha y métete en Sicad II”. More or less: kill two birds with one stone and make a bid on Sicad II. He was going to do it anyway, so I accepted the challenge – worse case scenario, if I didn’t get dollars, at least I hoped I could get a post about it. If there was going to be any value added, I figured I could spell out the steps to getting dollars via this mechanism.

Though my brownies are a killer, I’m not much of a cook, yet the recipe seemed simple enough.

Ingredients:

  1. Rusicad.
  2. Special bank account in foreign currency.
  3. Bolívares. As many or as few as you please, or have at your disposal.

Directions:

  1. Bid.
  2. Wait a little, until you get an email that lets you know if you’ve been awarded.
  3. Wait some more. Not sure for how long, but you’ll have to wait to actually get the dollars.

So I preheated the oven and went for it.

First, the must-do list.

  1. I had to register before the BCV as a Sicad user in the infamous Rusicad data base. I registered in September 2013 with the hope to participate in Sicad I, but my timing was always off, as my traveling schedule didn’t match the calls. However, this registry is key – well, the famous mail they send you when you register is key. Even though it includes your passwords and answers to your security question, and it says “este mensaje contiene información de carácter reservado y está dirigido a las personas nombradas en este correo electrónica” (more or less, “for your eyes only”), we are required to hand in a copy of this mail to a bureaucrat in order to prove we’re registered in Rusicad.
  2. I had to open a special bank account in foreign currency. I must say that it was faster than processing Cadivi folders. I showed my debit card, my personal ID, a copy of it, and THREE minutes later … I had a new bank account in dollars. No joke, it took three minutes or less.
  3. I had to have enough bolívares available in my account. This is what took the most time: working time.

After being done with the preliminaries, it came time to do some bidding.

Bids for Sicad II can be placed between 8:30am and 11:30am on any business day. To do this, I had to hand in a copy of the famous Rusicad mail (see above), my personal ID and a copy of it (this is Venezuela), and my fiscal registry –known as RIF- and a copy of it (again, it’s Venezuela).

When you’re bidding you have to specify the amount of dollars you wish to purchase, the rate at which you wish to purchase them, the source of the bolívares you will use to pay, and what you’ll use the Dollars for. You might be assigned dollars or bonds. In the latter case, you can choose to keep them or you can allow the bank to sell them as soon as you receive them.

I bid on April 24 at 9:27am and left the bank four minutes later. Up to here piece of cake.

If you’re thinking of doing this, one key question is how many dollars to ask for, and at what rate.

  1. You should always have a bank teller has a friend. They have the best tips (and love to gossip). A bank teller told my father that people asking for more than 3,000 dollars were not being awarded. I’m not sure if that’s completely true, but I took it as a ceiling, a rather high one when I did the math. Sicad II closed at 49.5568 BsF/US$ on April 23, which meant that 3.000 dollars came up to BsF 148,670.4. That is over 45 minimum wages.
  2.  As far as the rate goes, it has stayed below 50 BsF/US$ since March 31, but it has been climbing since April 11. So I went with 50.5 BsF/US$.

I was told that I would receive an email the day after the bid in case I was awarded the dollars or the bonds. Twenty-four hours didn’t seem like a long time, but I was actually puzzled: would I be awarded? Would I get the dollars or the bonds?

On April 24 at around 5:30pm I learned that Sicad II had closed at 49.6759 BsF/US$, only 0.8249 under the rate I bid. I was feeling confident.

On April 25, at 10:37am, I received the email: “Le notificamos que su Orden de Compra/Venta de Divisas número XXXXXX, de fecha 24/04/2014, colocada a través del Sistema Cambiario Alternativo de Divisas (SICAD II), ha sido ejecutada por los administradores del sistema en los siguientes términos: Efectivo: USD$ YYYY y Valores: USD$ 0”. In other words, those “YYYY” dollars meant that I got awarded, and in cash. Also, those “YYYY” dollars were the total amount I bid for. #Win

Now comes the not so fun part: waiting for the money.

The email also said: “tanto el valor efectivo en bolívares de su operación, como los montos correspondientes a comisiones e impuestos, se encuentra bloqueados en su Cuenta AHORRO – **** ZZZZ y le serán debitadas en la fecha valor de la operación”. This meant that my bolívares had been blocked. But when would I see those dollars reflected in my bank account?

That’s another story.

According to El Nacional, people complain about the delays in the actual deposits of the dollars assigned through Sicad II. Even though the Exchange Agreement No. 27 provides that, once the transaction is approved, the cash must be deposited within 48 hours and bonds within 72 hours, there are delays of up to on month. This would mean that I could be getting the dollars after my trip. Not so awesome, right? Now I know what foreign airlines operating in Venezuela feel like.

I’ll let you know what happens. In the meantime, the government has blocked my local currency, and I have nothing to show for it. But I guess I won … right?

UPDATE:

GOOD NEWS… the dollars are in.

EVEN BETTER… they are in my foreign bank account.

How long did it take?

The bolívares were debited from my account on April 28, under 48 business hours since I received the “you got awarded” email. However, the dollars weren’t reflected in my foreign bank account that day. According to a bank teller it could take up to 10 days for the dollars to be transferred abroad.

On the morning of Friday May 2 I was drafting the “still waiting” update but decided to give it a few more hours – at least till the end of the last business day of the week. And thank God I did. It gave me a better ending to the story.

“And so… on May 2, 2014, a week after been awarded cash via Sicad II, Anabella had access to the money. Now she could say she had conquered the beast. The End”.

1 COMMENT

  1. This is very enlightening, Anabella. I have two sets of comments/questions:

    First: A friend who’s in CCS told me the other day he was very frustrated with Sicad II because there is not sufficient funds being put into it. He strongly suspected that while it is all a necessary and needed move, it seems to be mere ‘theater” as the money to float it doesn’t seem to exist and he doesn’t see where the government can get it. Your take on this?

    Second: I’m very interested to see when you get the $$ and also was wondering what the total of “… los montos correspondientes a comisiones e impuestos” van a ser.
    One technical question: I assume the $3,000 limit you mentioned is because you are a private individual? Do you know what limits are set for businesses that are either a) domestic or b.) foreign?
    Thanks.

    Thanks!

    • Sicad II is meant to stay afloat with dollars provided by both the private and publics sectors. I think the Government was way too optimistic about the amounts that would come from the private sector, probably due to the fact that Article 3 of the the Exchange Agreement No. 27 states: “Artículo 3.- Las personas naturales o jurídicas privadas, dedicadas a la exportación de bienes y servicios, podrán retener y administrar hasta el sesenta por ciento (60%) del ingreso que perciban en divisas, en razón de las exportaciones realizadas, para cubrir los gastos incurridos en virtud de la actividad exportadora, distintos a la deuda financiera, a los fines previstos en el artículo 2 del Convenio Cambiario N° 20 del 14 de junio de 2012, y a objeto de efectuar operaciones de venta a través del Sistema Cambiario Alternativo de Divisas (SICAD II). El resto de las divisas obtenidas serán vendidas al Banco Central de Venezuela, quien las adquirirá al tipo de cambio de referencia a que se refiere el artículo 14 del presente Convenio Cambiario, que rija para la fecha de la adquisición”.

      As of today the demand is still (way) higher that the amount of dollars being offered and so… “Liquidación de divisas en Sicad II se retrasa hasta un mes”. (http://www.el-nacional.com/economia/Liquidacion-divisas-Sicad-II-retrasa_0_394160726.html)

      About “los montos correspondientes a comisiones e impuestos” >> “los operadores de valores autorizados a través del Sistema Cambiario Alternativo de Divisas (Sicad II) sólo podrán cobrar sus clientes, personas naturales y jurídicas, hasta el 1% del monto en bolívares de cada operación, por concepto de comisión, tarifa y/o recargo”. (http://www.el-nacional.com/economia/bolivares-operacion-operadores-Sicad-II_0_386961322.html)

      The 3000 dollar limit was more of a tip. I honestly trust bank tellers and their tips. However, some experts say: “aunque sí se han registrado adjudicaciones, existen topes en la asignación. A las personas naturales se les permite un máximo de 6.000 dólares y a las empresas 200.000 dólares por orden de compra” (http://www.el-nacional.com/economia/Calculan-gobierno-Sicad-II-millardos_0_385161619.html). And a friend told me that a friend of his got 4000 dollars. One way or the other it’s a gamble.

      • Thanks, Anabella. Well, its the only game in town! However at this rate, it won’t attract any significant amount of private dollars … which means, it seems to me, failure somewhere down the road.

        Sure, if they are serious, they can improve its functioning … but, well, let’s see if you get your dollars in your account, and then can get them out!

      • I always use the bank’s branch near my office where there is a very competent employee who is the one I always sit with to handle any operation I make. I tried 3 times to purchase dollars and was finally awarded on April 24 too. Before bidding, I had asked her if she had any tips and she said that the employees of the bank have seat to compare the bids of people who were awarded and they couldn’t find a patter on quantity, exchange rate, use of funds, hour of the bud to advise people of how to make it, it’s completely random.

  2. Tried to register on RUSICAD. Got this (and laughed):

    Disculpe en este momento
    Registro de Usuario
    Presenta inconvenientes debido a
    Acceso Denegado. Hoy solo se atenderan las cédulas que finalicen en los números 0 – 1
    Centro Integrado de Atención Tecnológica – CIAT
    adecuaciontecnologica@bcv.org.ve

  3. Please, tell us know if you get the cash on your account. I’ve heard too many stories about banks not liquidating any dollars as of yet. Don’t know if it’s true but it seems like so!

  4. The other not yet mentioned issue is how to get the purchased dollars from your Venezuelan dollar account to your pockets , apparently there is yet another BCV permit needed to get the dollars in your account transferred abroad to a foreign bank account or you can get to use it via a debit card which the bank issues you for use abroad . Can you enlighten us on this latter topic.??

    • When I was hoping to bid on Sicad I back in September 2013, I went to my bank (Mercantil) and asked to create -if I remember the name correctly- a Ficha de Corretaje de Inversión. I handed an original and a copy of my ID and RIF, and details of my personal foreign bank account: name of the bank, ABA or Swift code and bank account number or IBAN. When I bid on Sicad II I was asked if I wanted to keep the dollars in the special bank account in foreign currency I had to open (check the 2nd Ingredient of the recipe) or if I wanted the dollars to be transferred automatically to the account specified in my Ficha as soon as I got them. I chose the latter.

      Not sure if this procedure is the same in all banks. That’s why I didn’t include it in the recipe.

      • Actually if you had bid on SITME, the RUSITME registration for a few years back works as well and the ficha de corretaje de seguros from SITME also worked to ask for my dollars to be transferred overseas. I just called Mercantil and they told me that even if you asked the money to be transferred to you account overseas, it has to be transferred first to your Venezuelan $ account and then transferred again to your foreign account, which makes absolutely no sense, but then this is Venezuela.

  5. As far as I see it, this is a new way of transferring Venezuela’s resources from the poor to some of the better-off who have the patience and the knack to persist in unproductive bureaucratic procedures.
    Nothing of this would be relevant if we had free exchange rates.

    I have never seen such a large amount of a country’s population in something like this, not even the proportion of people in any developed nation spending time on betting on stock options related to food prices in the world.

    It’s simply crazy.

  6. **You should always have a bank teller has a friend. They have the best tips.** etc

    I can understand that and maybe draw the line at not quite inside information being used as an advantage. Nevertheless there’s also something about someone applying for dollars without that knowledge and being unsuccessful. So who should be the winner ? The one who gets the nod and wink or someone who walks the straight but narrow road ?
    Minor you might say but this is typical Venezuelan, all the way to the top but of course much worse the higher you go. Our dubious approach to problem solving has always been about winning at someone’s expense. Seems that our price has dropped to $3000 and probably less.

    It won’t take much to add on a zero to your dollars request. Sign up to every Maduro initiative and soon you’ll be changing your pink for a red T shirt.

    “Hey it’s only $3000, it’s nothing………..”. Just a number I suppose.

    If you believe that Maduro and his government is about to, or will soon implode do you really want your debited bolivars waiting in the wings for dollars that may not be credited ? Will that which replaces Maduro honor a previous agreement ? Maybe not a leadership replacement but a complete economical halt that has been forecast by all that may have the same effect in dishing out the diminished number of available dollars.
    So imagine you have containers full of bolivars, some have, and those horrible capitalist swines have frozen your account because of your questionable politics. Now that’s not an unlikely scenario for many of our leaders and lieutenants now in control. But they now need to replenish the “dollar rainy day” fund so what about killing two birds with one stone ?
    So Joe Public allows Gangsta(choose any name) to deduct bolivars from their account. “Don’t worry we’ll send you dollars, soon we think”. No doubt some will receive the dollars but many will not. And those who didn’t receive may have found their bolivars changed at the sicad 1 rate but of course not for their $ account. So not only does Gangsta( choose any name) get dollars but at near as damnit at 4 times the already grossly undervalued sicad 1 rate. That may not exactly be the scenario but it will be something of that order.
    And I can hear many say that will never happen. Well do you really trust Cabello ? Would you give him a bunch of bolivars for a dollar promise ? Are we governed by criminals ? Are the dollars in Venezuela ours or theirs ? Have “they” hijacked the parallel market for their own benefit ?
    And if you feel comfortable with the answers sign up for an account, fill in the form and allow the trace to begin.

    • “Straight and narrow” and “Venezuela” are opposites. Not taking into account actual corruption or insider trading or whatever, trying to navigate the convoluted bureocratic process without some help would be madness. Hell, I’m sure most of the people involved in the whole chain of make-work are as confused as anybody else about who needs what to be presented where when and how, or if the limit is 3000, 6000, 500, 20000 or is just up to whoever gets the work to say “eh… I think its …”

  7. I guess this is a teaser? The real story begins just at the spot where this piece ended. The question is: Will you get your dollars? And then, the really big question is: Will you really get them in your non-special account? Nobody I know has been able to move the currency from their special account yet.

  8. Sicad II is like the hand-written sign I saw in a U. S. highway men’s bathroom near the “hands hot air drying machine “:1) Wash Hands; 2) Push Button On Machine; 3) Place Hands Under Hot Air Drying Nozzle; 4) Rub Hands Together In Hot Air; 5) Dry Hands On Pants.” I understand that: 75% of applicants receive no dollars; of the 25% that do receive dollars,75% have yet to see the dollars, but their Bs. have been debited; and, of the few who did receive dollars, virtually none has been able to transfer them out of the Country. My industrialist friends in Valencia say that Sicad II is a fraud–as an example, one was authorized $200M, ordered the same amount of imports, and was just told he had to negotiate in a special meeting with Merentes in order to receive $30M/mo. for 6-7 months; of course, his Bs. are long gone. Those who had waited for the chance at a Sicad II rate are paying 75-80 privately, not withstanding the DT quote somewhat lower, which, along with coming May 1 minimum wage increases/monetary expansion, is taking us up to old/newer highs.

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