El Salvador’s Finance Minister ‘Laughs off’ Claims of USD 40M Bitcoin ‘Losses’

El Salvador’s Finance Minister ‘Laughs off’ Claims of USD 40M Bitcoin ‘Losses’
Alejandro Zelaya. Source: a video screenshot, Ministerio de Hacienda / YouTube

El Salvador’s Minister of Finance Alejandro Zelaya says he is “laughing off” international media reports that claim the nation’s bitcoin (BTC) adoption plans could scupper the economy and that they have left a USD 40 million hole in national finances.

The minister was speaking at a press conference, where journalists asked him about a report from the German media outlet Deutsche Welle that claimed that the economy was being “dragged down by fiscal risk to the tune of USD 40 million.”

Zelaya called the report and others like it examples of “biased” journalism, and added, per ElSalvador.com:

“This is a clear criticism of bitcoin, not El Salvador. El Salvador is what interests them the least here. […] So when they say that El Salvador’s fiscal risk, due to bitcoin [adoption] is very high, all it does is make me laugh. And I think any serious economist would do the same, because it is an extremely superficial analysis. And they speak from ignorance.”

Zelaya also hit out at critics who have focused on “losses” calculated on the basis of BTC market prices at the time of purchase and current market trends, as bitcoin has slid toward the USD 20,000 mark.

The finance chief stated that even if the “losses” did amount to USD 40 million, this would be a mere drop in the ocean compared to the sums that former Salvadoran Presidents Mauricio Funes and Antonio Saca had reportedly embezzled from the national economy.

He stated that the risks involved with BTC investment were “extremely minimal, and added:

“They say that Bitcoin losses can be USD 40 million, but how much did Funes steal? USD 351 million. How much did former President Saca steal? USD 300 million.”

He also pointed to alleged “USD 500 million” financial irregularities surrounding the El Chaparral hydroelectric plant project, claiming that the “experts” had not chosen to identify this project “as a financial risk.” 

At 11:42 UTC, BTC is trading at USD 21,994. It’s down 7.6% in a day and 30% in a week.

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