On Sunday, El Salvador’s Bitcoin trust apparently accrued $4 million in surplus due to a surge in BTC prices. Despite growing concerns over national debt, President Nayib Bukele will splash the extra cash on a state-of-the-art pet hospital, reports Reuters.
The nation’s Bitcoin trust was authorized by congress days ahead of El Salvador’s Bitcoin law coming into effect on September 7.
The initial $150 million dropped into the trust was redirected from a $500 million loan from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), intended to relieve economic pressure for small and medium sized businesses.
The Development Bank of El Salvador (Bandesal) manages the trust, which has since grown as Bukele regularly bought the dip. Protos estimates the trust contained 700 BTC ($38.6 million) on September 22, bought by Bukele for around $35.1 million in total.
That would mean Bukele’s Bitcoin trust is currently up just shy of $3.5 million.
On Sunday, El Salvador’s president took to Twitter to announce his plans to build a $4 million pet hospital in the capital city with the surplus. He later hedged that the facility would be paid for using the USD part of the trust.
Who’s a good boy? Not Bukele, says US
Some analysts say El Salvador’s economy is currently on a knife-edge. The government’s bond, due in 2035, dropped about 6% in value after its Bitcoin law passed. Since then, it’s fallen a total of 17% to 75 cents on the dollar.
Experts project the country’s economy hinges on a potential $1 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It’s currently “under discussion” — but last week, the IMF reissued warnings that adopting Bitcoin as national tender posed serious risks.
Not to mention, Bukele’s decision in May to fire all supreme court judges over the age of 60, as well as a recent law tweak letting presidents serve two terms, has the US less than impressed.
As it turns out, votes from the US make up the bulk of the IMF’s awaited decision to grant a $1 billion loan.
So allocating all of the Bitcoin trust’s surplus to a pet hospital has raised many Salvadoran eyebrows.
One Twitter user questioned the cost of the pet hospital when nationwide, human living conditions are poor.
In response, the self-styled ‘coolest dictator’ has yet to justify aiding the plight of man’s best friend other than proclaiming that Bitcoin is “good for pets.”
A potential reason would be to help stray animals — of which there’s a high population in El Salvador.
Animal shelters and rescue non-profits receiving government support are scarce. And a 2018 study showed the chance of getting rabies from a stray dog is high — 28% of dogs tested in the capital San Salvador had the disease.
According to the Spanish Twitter thread, the pet hospital will consist of 12 basic offices, four emergency clinics, four operating rooms, as well as rehabilitation, isolation, and recovery areas.
But Bukele hasn’t suggested those facilities would benefit furry friends roaming the streets — not to mention, the chances those services won’t come out of pocket are slim.
Chivo wallet app far from perfect
If the video mockup is anything to go by, the new pet hospital will be called ChivoPets.
The clinic’s name also takes after the country’s bespoke crypto wallet which, on top of everything, has hit some speed bumps in its development.
The app is reportedly rife with identity fraud as criminals claim $30 Bitcoin bonuses entitled to each citizen.
In September, authorities detained activist Mario Gomez without issuing a warrant after the commentator shared criticisms of Chivo.
Gomez pointed out a link between Chivo’s wallet address and the one used by teenage hackers behind a massive Bitcoin scam. The activist was released without charge after a few hours.
Indeed, Salvadorans have made their feelings clear about Bukele’s Bitcoin plan. One anti-Bitcoin rally resulted in the torching of newly installed Bitcoin ATMs.
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