Mérida, 7th November 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Over 4,000 companies have registered their pricing structures with the Venezuelan government’s Automated Price System (Sisap) as part of the latest phase in the new Law of Fair Costs and Prices.
Passed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in July, the law allows the Venezuelan state to set prices across a range of economic sectors in a bid to ensure access to goods and services for the Venezuelan people and to combat hoarding and price speculation by private companies. It also seeks to stabilise prices in the context of an inflation rate of around 26% per year.
The newly created National Intendancy of Fair Costs and Prices is responsible for administering the law, regulating prices, inspecting companies, and sanctioning violations when necessary.
The registration period for the Sisap ran between 22 November, when the price-setting law came into effect, and 7 December, during which production, marketing and retail companies registered their pricing structures for 19 household cleaning and bathroom products, including; shampoo, shaving products, sanitary towels, disposable diapers, and cleaning and dish-washing products.
Prices have been frozen on these items since the beginning of the registration process, with 482 official inspectors visiting stores throughout the country to ensure that businesses are complying with the measure, confirmed William Contreras, the Intendant of Costs and Prices.
The information obtained from the inspectors and the companies’ registration of pricing structures with the Sisap will be used by the National Intendancy to set maximum sale prices for these products to the public. These prices will be set between the 8th and 15th ofDecember and come into effect on the 15th of January. Companies will be obliged to print the price of regulated items on the products’ label in order to ensure that they are being sold at the regulated price.
Ensuring Access to Goods and Services
Speaking on Venezuelan television channel Venevision on Tuesday, National Superintendant of Costs and Prices Karlin Granadillo asserted that the price-setting law is framed within the Venezuelan constitution and promotes the democratisation of access to goods and services.
“In a situation where prices are increasing, and this excludes that part of the population that no longer has the possibility to acquire those goods and services; the law seeks to guarantee that this right isn’t lost, but rather that the population has access [to goods and services]”, he explained.
Granadillo also confirmed that after the inspection process for cleaning and bathroom products is complete, the next stage of the law’s implementation will be the auditing of the price structures of medical products, because they “involve people’s life and health”.
Roger Sarmiento, a member of the Socialist Front of Journalists, also argued this week that the law represents an important protection for the wages and salaries of Venezuelan workers from speculation and hoarding.
Private companies in Venezuelan continue the practice of hoarding key products, releasing them periodically. This has the effect of driving up prices, as well as putting pressure on the government.
The issue came to the fore in Venezuela recently when the national government seized 210 tonnes of hoarded milk from Italian company Parmalat on 26 November, and fined Swiss company Nestle last week for the same offense.
Powdered milk and cooking oil are currently almost impossible to find at the regulated price in Merida, with shortages also experienced in the capital Caracas.
After initially claiming that the hoarded milk was due to a mix-up on the part of the Venezuelan government, Parmalat issued an official apology to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for not having “achieved our objective as a company and adequately communicating what happened in the specific case of the quota of commissioned milk...we don’t want to distort the efforts of your honourable government ...towards the national supply of foods and the protection of consumers”.