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Wednesday, September 15, 1999 Published at 00:25 GMT 01:25 UK

World: Americas

Austerity hits Venezuela

The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, has announced that 23 small jet planes used by public officials are to be sold off.

The government is hoping to raise $24m through the sale, to fund new homes, schools and clinics for the country's poorest citizens.

President Chavez said there was no justification for keeping the planes, which are routinely used by Venezuelan officials for private trips.

Since taking office, Mr Chavez has promised to curb the excesses of top civil servants, whom he's accused of squandering millions of dollars of tax-payers' money on unnecessary trips, mobile telephones, bodyguards and chauffeur-driven cars.

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