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People in Venezuela struggle to afford basic goods

Reporter: Lv Li 丨 CCTV.com

10-27-2016 15:11 BJT

One of the most visible consequences of Venezuela's steep recession has been a lack of food in the country's shops. The government has long attempted to make essential goods affordable to the poorest by forcing retailers to sell many products at regulated prices. But that effort has helped fuel a black market. Authorities now appear to be trying a new strategy. CCTV's Stephen Gibbs reports from Caracas.

For the past two years, this has been an image of Venezuela. Longs queues, outside shops selling price-controlled goods and inside, empty shelves. Products, when available, are bought up within hours, and often then resold on the black market. But in the last few weeks something has changed.

Go into a private supermarket in Caracas, and in other major cities, and you'll see this. A return of many of the goods that have not been available for months. Things like cereal, detergent, and milk.

It seems the government has quietly removed or decided not to enforce price controls on a range of goods. It is beating the black market at its own game.

Anabella Abadi, an economist, said, "I think the government realised that many had to go to the black market to find food - to find rice or cornmeal or whatever - at really high prices. So the government said if even poor people are buying at really high prices so maybe I can import it at international prices and people can still buy it."

Parallel to this the government has expanded a program of direct distribution of subsidized food to the neediest, while obliging private companies to sell up to 50% of their produce to the state, at fixed prices.

But the fundamental problem remains. Venezuela imports almost everything it consumes, and it is fast running out of the hard currency it needs to pay for it.

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