Last updated at 15:06 BST, Friday, 27 September 2013

Dealing with Venezuela's food crisis

Summary

27 September 2013

The Venezuelan government has announced new economic measures to tackle the country's shortages of essential goods, such as flour, milk and toilet paper. Earlier this month, Finance Minister Nelson Merentes acknowledged the government's economic policies had been unsuccessful.

Reporter:

Irene Caselli

Venezuela's Vice-President Jorge Arreaza

Vice-President Jorge Arreaza wants Venezuelans to have food, toys and trees this Christmas

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It's become common for Venezuelans to go to different supermarkets in order to buy all the items on their shopping list. Central bank figures show that out of 100 basic products, 20 are not available.

With Christmas coming, the Venezuelan authorities are worried shortages may increase. The vice-president, Jorge Arreaza, said the government was going to ensure that citizens have access to food, toys and artificial trees in order to celebrate during their holidays.

The government accuses businessmen of holding back basic products in order to force customers to buy more expensive alternatives. President Nicolas Maduro has set up a telephone hotline, 0-800-SABOTAGE, for Venezuelans to report on such illegal activities.

But analysts say cutting red tape to facilitate imports is too little, too late. They blame shortages on the government's currency controls and inadequate domestic production of staples.

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Vocabulary

in order to

so that (something can happen)

to ensure

to make sure something happens

citizens

people who are legally members of a particular country

artificial

man-made; a copy of something natural

holding back

(here) not giving

sabotage

intentionally to stop something happening

red tape

rules, processes and documents that seem to cause unnecessary delay

staples

basic products that people eat or use regularly

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