As the Venezuelan government continues to tackle speculative retail pricing, President Nicolas Maduro has urged supporters to boycott private newspapers.
“Let’s boycott these newspapers to demonstrate the level of consciousness and dignity of a country that is willing to stand up against economic sabotage,” he stated.
Maduro accused private newspapers including El Universal of being part of an “economic war” against his government.
“Do not buy these newspapers because these are newspapers defending the parasitic bourgeoisie that is robbing you,” he said during a speech in Caracas.
Maduro alleged that the private media is defending retailers who have been targeted this week by authorities for charging inflated prices for consumer goods. According to authorities, at least 28 people have been arrested since the weekend for selling goods at “speculative” prices.
According to Maduro, retailers selling goods at reasonable prices are the “exception” to the rule.
“In the beginning of this economic offensive to regularise…the national economy, we found only 5 of 1,400 establishments complying with their proper commercial functions,” he said.
“So far only one of them has told us they use dollars from outside the Cadivi system,” he said, referring to the government foreign currency exchange body.
Through Cadivi, importers can obtain foreign currency to purchase goods abroad at the government exchange rate at Bs 6.3 to the US dollar.
However, recently business advocates have blamed price hikes on difficulties accessing Cadivi funds, and the fall in the value of the bolivar on the black market.
“The great tragedy entrepreneurs are having is that their bolivars can't get dollars to buy stuff or bring in inventories,” stated Jorge Roig, head of the country's largest business group Fedecamaras earlier this week.
Maduro rejected these claims, stating that this week's inspections of businesses “proves” that “over 95%” of domestic business foreign exchange needs are being satisfied by the government.
The president proposed that if he is granted decree powers he requested last month, he would reform the government's foreign exchange application process to require businesses to sign an agreement with the government pledging to sell products imported with Cadivi dollars at reasonable prices.
He also promoted
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mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”> to establish a National Centre of Foreign Trade, which will oversee the government's various foreign exchange schemes and public sector imports and exports.
Addressing the First Congress of Small and Medium Industries at the Hotel Alba in Caracas, Maduro stated that the initiative will benefit small and medium sized Venezuelan business.
“We will offer high quality products from our small and medium industries to the Venezuelan people, strengthening new networks of internal and external marketing,” he said.
However, Maduro again hit out at Fedecamaras, which he accused of being part of the “economic war” for failing to condemn retailers that engage in speculative pricing, and instead blaming government policy.
Earlier this week, Roig accused Maduro of launching a “witch hunt” against retailers, and promoting “looting”.
“We reject any unfair practice, but everything should be done with due process and by following the law,” he said.
“There will be no turning back no regrets,” Maduro stated yesterday.
“We are defeating an economic war on our country,” he said.