Venezuela declared a 60-day economic emergency on Jan 15.

As the BBC reports, the announcement that President Nicolas Maduro will govern by decree for the next two months was made just hours before the socialist leader delivered his State of the Nation address to Congress.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Maduro's top economic adviser, Luis Salas, said the measures were made in order to assure Venezuelans that the social programs they have come to depend upon would continue despite the nation's troubled economy. “We want to reaffirm the people’s trust in the revolutionary government,” said Salas.

New figures released by Venezuela’s central bank inform that the economy contracted by 4.5 percent in the first nine months of last year.

Speaking to Congress, Maduro vowed he would continue on with the nation's present economic model. The new decree allows the executive branch control over the national budget and gives Maduro's administration the direct power to implement policies which might stimulate the economy.

As the AFP reports, Maduro claimed that Venezeula’s current economic model was all that was keeping citizens employed. "These catastrophic figures (are) the result of an economic situation that in another era of regressive neoliberal and capitalist policies would surely have pushed (the Venezuelan) people into unemployment," said Maduro.

"The socialist model is the only one, not the neoliberal model that wants to come and privatize everything," he added.

Lawmakers in the opposition Democratic Unity coalition said the decree would be vetted in the coming week.

As previously reported, Venezuela's opposition party lost their recently won supermajority when they allowed three of their members to be barred from Congress.

National Assembly speaker Henry Ramos Allup was critical of Maduro's economic plan. "For 17 years, we've followed a wrong-headed economic model," he said.