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The difficulties of Venezuelans to cover the basic food basket

The difficulties of Venezuelans to cover the basic food basket

Posted by Dubraswka Aguilar on November 06, 2014

In Venezuela, the average family has to go to and fro to find "the lowest cost" to complete one food basket that, even subsidized, is 17 percent above the minimum wage and is unreal for a market that ignores state regulations.

In the oil country, a citizen could pay for a kilo of coffee 220 bolivars ($ 34) in the first shop you get it, or you can walk the streets until you find a store that sells it at 26.50 bolivars (US $ 4.2) and making the subsidized price of the Executive to become a reality.

The distortion between the prices set by the government of Nicolas Maduro and set by the market spans over 40 products in the Standard Food Basket (SFB), which, according to officials, is worth about 5,741 bolivars ($ 911).

In 2011, the government of the late Hugo Chavez (1999-2013) enacted a Law on Fair Costs and Prices to regulate prices of basic goods.

Since then, the productive sector complained that the set prices did not cover costs of production, which began to frequent cycles of scarcity and shortages affecting one in four products.

The difficulty to find products like milk, coffee, sugar and toilet paper force Venezuelans to pay speculative prices, in many cases the result of the desire to maximize profits by traders.

Many believe that much of the market prices are set based on the dollar in the unofficial or parallel market, which currently stands at over 100 bolivars.

In Venezuela rules for more than a decade an exchange control with three different official courses, ranging from 6.3 bolivars per dollar, about 12 dollar Sicad I and about 50 of Sicad II, the latter closest but only half the value of the dollar which is traded on the street.

According to the Center for Documentation and Social Analysis (Cendas), the cost of the basket was "in excess of 15,000 bolivars" during October, according to the director of the organization, Oscar Meza said.

"This difference is mainly because our calculation is not about 'what ought to be', but what it really is," said Meza, referring to the difference between the market price and government-set.

If so, 3.5 minimum wages would be required to meet the nutritional needs of an average family.

However, the National Statistics Institute (INE), in charge to calculate the official indicator of the SFB, has not returned to give figures since last May, when it stood at 4,448 bolivars ($ 706), while last inflation published stood at 63.4 percent in August.

The other option that people have is to go to the supermarket chains of government in which all the products of the SFB are the price promised, but where there are long lines of people to access and people start to come very early in the morning and have to stay in line for several hours.

Also in these chains there are scarce multiple products.

Much of the blame for the shortages are also those who deviate commodity smuggling to neighboring countries, especially Colombia and Brazil.

Some food distributors divert subsidized goods for a hefty profit on the other side of the border and there are also individuals who accumulate goods or networks who buy in large quantities for the same purpose.

Maduro announced on Tuesday an increase of 15 per cent of the minimum wage in December, bringing the salary to 4889.11 bolivars or $ 776 at the lowest exchange 6.3.

The president noted that considering that in January there was a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage in May and another increase of 30 percent, with this new incentive is enacted and it rises to 68.2 percent overall improvement in 2014 if other contributions as the ticket supply is included.

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