The price of the world's cheapest gasoline will start to nudge higher if Venezuela's president has his way.

President Nicolas Maduro says he favors raising gas prices that have been stuck at around 5 cents a gallon for nearly two decades.

Maduro says an eventual price hike will come only at an "opportune time," after a government-led debate explaining to Venezuelans how much money is spent subsidizing motorists and assuring such an increase won't add to inflation.

Successive Venezuelan leaders have balked at raising gas prices for fear of repeating the policy mistake that triggered days of deadly rioting in 1989. The government says subsidies consume upward of $12.5 billion a year and contribute to pollution as Venezuelans buck a global trend toward more fuel efficient, cleaner fuel-burning vehicles.