Mérida, 13th September 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced plans yesterday to intensify the battle against food shortages and what he called “sabotage” to the economy.
From the beginning of this year Venezuela has experienced relative scarcity in the supply of certain basic food products and other goods in the economy. This has been coupled with inflation of 32.9% in the first eight months of 2013, hitting food prices among other goods.
While the monthly inflation rate has slowed to under half of the peak 6.1% rate recorded in May, according to the Central Bank, scarcity levels have only marginally reduced from a high reached in April. However, conditions vary regionally, and in Merida for example, most scarce products from April are now available.
The conservative opposition blames government price controls and mismanagement in the distribution of state-controlled foreign currency for shortages and other economic problems.
Meanwhile the government argues that shortages are largely due to deliberate “economic sabotage” by opposition economic and political actors in an attempt to “finish” the country’s Bolivarian revolution.
Yesterday Maduro announced the creation of a High Economic Commission to fight the “economic war” and help end shortages.
“I’ve decided to create a top body for the coordination, inspection, control and guarantee of the total functioning of the economy,” he announced to supporters in Caracas, adding that the organisation’s aim will be to “neutralise all factors that sabotage the economic life of the people”.
The Economic Commission brings together all government ministers and bodies working in the area of food production and supply, as well as grassroots organisations and representatives of different social sectors. It will be directed by President Maduro.
“I assume the economic battle against the plans of fascist war against the people. I personally assume it before the people,” he said.
Maduro urged communes, communal councils and social movements to form economic committees to liaise with authorities in measures taken to ensure the adequate supply of food and “guarantee the Venezuelan economy from the grassroots”.
Speaking in a national broadcast, the Venezuelan head of state also announced a series of measures to help overcome shortages.
One of these is the import of over US $600 million in food products from neighbouring Colombia, following a meeting between Maduro and Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos on Wednesday.
“Over $600 million in purchases should begin to arrive from Colombia from next week to strengthen [food] supply,” Maduro explained.
A second strategy will be to inspect transport and distribution companies to combat “right wing plans” to “hold back the supply and storage of food products”. The government will also organise the inspection of food companies to verify their levels of production.
Further, an information line called “0800 Sabotage” has been set up where citizens can denounce suspected cases of sabotage in the food or electricity sectors.
Maduro called on citizens to organise themselves and support the government’s efforts to tackle shortages. “Let’s prepare ourselves with the constitution in hand for the battles that we’re going to win in the next few months, to clear our country’s path to the coming of a triumphant and consolidated revolution,” he said.