Despite its technological twist on the old allotment booklet, Venezuela’s new program of rationing is infuriating consumers who say it creates tiresome waits, doesn’t relieve shortages and overlooks the far-reaching economic overhauls the country needs to resolve the problem.
The government rolled out the system last month across 36 supermarkets in this western border state, Zulia, whose capital is Maracaibo, with a recent expansion into a select number of state-owned markets in Caracas.
Venezuela is turning to rationing because of shortages caused by what economists call a toxic mix of unproductive local industry—hamstrung by nationalizations and government intervention—and a complex currency regime that is unable to provide the dollars importers need to pay for basics.
Oil prices have plummeted, which will cause Venezuelans even more grief. Some blame the government:
“The government is the one that lets the problems flourish,” said Eliseo Fermín, an opposition member of Zulia’s state congress. “Now the average citizen bears the brunt.”The government blames smugglers, claiming the commie price-controlled products are smuggled out and sold in Colombia for a profit.
Though economists estimate that about 10% of Venezuelan consumer merchandise winds up in Colombia, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has said that the figure is 40%. He has closed checkpoints along the whole 1,375-mile border at night to stem the flow, and a crackdown on smugglers has led to the arrests of shoppers that officials believe to be planning to sell what they purchase in Colombia, say border guards.
“It is the responsibility of everyone to unite against contraband,” Zulia Gov. Francisco Arias, a member of Mr. Maduro’s Socialist Party, said on a recent TV show. He and other officials say fingerprinting prevents bulk buying for resale more effectively than requiring shoppers to show their national identity cards, a method that is used to track and limit purchases in some Caracas stores.
Water is also rationed. Sometimes up to 108 hours a week.
And automotive fuel. Scanners make sure drivers fill up only twice a week.
Maybe by the next election the people will be so fed up they'll make the right choice. Or not. After all cheap food is a good thing, even though you can't find any.
The story here.