First milk, butter, coffee and cornmeal ran short. Now Venezuela is running out of the most basic of necessities – toilet paper.
Venezuelan National Assembly voted Tuesday evening a special budget of 79 million dollars to import toilet paper and other hygiene products, and put a stop to the crisis affecting the country that houses the largest hydrocarbons reserves in the world.
This budget will be used to buy 39 million rolls of toilet paper, 50 million napkins, 10 million soaps, 17 million disposable diapers and three million toothpaste tubes.
Shortages in Venezuela are imputed to former leader Hugo Chavez, who implemented state-controlled prices in 2003.
"State-controlled prices – prices that are set below market-clearing price – always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union," said Steve Hanke, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.
President Nicolas Maduro, who was selected by the dying Hugo Chávez to carry on his "Bolivarian revolution", claims that anti-government forces, including the private sector, are causing the shortages in an effort to destabilise the country.
Chavez, who dies of cancer in March, used oil resources to finance social programs and support friendly regimes.
The country’s economy is still affected by shortages of electricity. Inflation surged 20 percent last year and debt reached 150 billion dollars, or 50 percent of the gross domestic product in a country with 29 million inhabitants.