(Adds quote from Maduro and background)
CARACAS, Jan 30 (Reuters) - A “pre-sale” of Venezuela’s new ‘petro’ cryptocurrency will begin on Feb. 20, President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday, a move that the government hopes will help pull the country out of a dire economic crisis.
Maduro has previously said that the government will issue 100 million tokens, each valued at - and backed by - the equivalent of one barrel of Venezuelan crude.
That would put the value of the entire petro issuance at just over $6 billion.
“All the cryptocurrencies of the world have been revalued after Venezuela’s announcements about the creation of the petro,” said Maduro in a speech broadcast on state television.
The OPEC nation is seeking to raise hard currency amid a crippling crisis.
Venezuela’s government has said that the petro issue will help the cash-strapped country make financial transactions and overcome U.S. sanctions against Maduro’s socialist government.
Critics have slammed the move as not only illegal but a simple debt issuance for a government overseeing quadruple-digit inflation and major shortages.
A document by advisers reviewed by Reuters two weeks ago recommended the government sell $2.3 billion in a private-offering, with up to 60 percent discount, in mid-February.
Reporting by Caracas newsroom, writing by Girish Gupta; editing by Cynthia Osterman and Rosalba O'Brien