Viva La Socialism!
(The Guardian) –
“State-controlled prices – prices that are set below market-clearing price – always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union,” said Steve Hanke, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.
President Nicolás Maduro, who was selected by the dying Hugo Chávez to carry on his “Bolivarian revolution”, claims that anti-government forces, including the private sector, are causing the shortages in an effort to destabilise the country.
The government this week announced it also would import 760,000 tonnes of food in addition to the 50m rolls of toilet paper.
Commerce minister Alejandro Fleming blamed the shortage of toilet tissue on “excessive demand” built up as a result of “a media campaign that has been generated to disrupt the country”.
“The revolution will bring the country the equivalent of 50 million rolls of toilet paper,” he was quoted as saying Tuesday by state news agency AVN. “We are going to saturate the market so that our people calm down.”
Patience is wearing thin among consumers who face shortages and long queues at supermarkets and pharmacies. Last month, Venezuela’s scarcity index reached its highest level since 2009, while the 12-month inflation rate has risen to nearly 30%. Shoppers often spend several days looking for basic items, and stock up when they find them.
Fleming said monthly consumption of toilet paper was normally 125m rolls, but that current demand “leads us to think that 40m more are required”.
“We will bring in 50m to show those groups that they won’t make us bow down,” he said.
50 million rolls for a population of over 28 million, like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound.