Mérida, October 9th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) — The
Venezuelan government announced a plan this week to purchase 4.8 million
bolivars (U.S. $2.2 million) worth of basic foods to be sold over the next ten
months in its state-run subsidized food market chain, Mercal. The measure comes
as new statistics show that monthly inflation increased by 2.5% in September,
with food price inflation above average.
The food purchase, which is financed by the national Social
Development Bank (BANDES), is intended to "guarantee food security, as well as
opportune and permanent access to food for people, especially the population
with fewer resources, by way of national and international purchases, privileging
national production," according to the executive order that was signed on
78% of the money will be used buy nearly a million metric tons of
foods such as rice, pasta, flour, beans, sugar, salt, cooking oil, meat, and
milk, as well as traditional Venezuelan food items consumed during the December
The remaining portion of the money will go toward upgrades to the
information systems, food transport vehicles, and other machinery used by the
Mercal markets, as well as construction and repairs to the small markets, which
can be found in or near most communities across the country.
The amount of money invested and the amount of food purchased
according to the plan are approximately the same as the amounts invested and
purchased under previous plans, which were announced in September 2008 and
November 2007, reflecting the government's pledge to maintain social spending
in spite of the world economic crisis.
The Mercal program was founded in 2003 with the goal of achieving
national food sovereignty and lowering malnutrition. It is now accompanied by
the program PDVAL, which produces and distributes food nation-wide at
state-regulated prices and is run by the state oil company, PDVSA.
Meanwhile, the monthly inflation rate in September was 2.5%, slightly
higher than the 2.2% monthly rate in August, according to the National
Institute of Statistics (INE). Accumulated inflation so far this year is 18.5%,
slightly lower than the 21.8% inflation registered over the first nine months
of last year, the INE reported.
Inflation in the prices of rent, transportation, communications,
health care, and clothing were significantly lower than the monthly rate. Food
price inflation was 3.3%, and inflation was also above average in the prices of
furniture, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and educational services and