March 5, 2021

The largest Venezuelan food firm sees it arbitrary for the government to review prices



Alimentos Polar, the largest company in the sector in Venezuela, described this Saturday as “arbitrary measure” the supervision of the prices of its products decreed by the Government of Nicolás Maduro after accusing them of promoting speculation.

“There is no justification for this arbitrary measure. Despite all the economic situation we face … we continue to produce and distribute quality food adjusted to economic reality and complying with the country in accordance with the laws,” he said in a statement the executive president of Empresas Polar, Lorenzo Mendoza.

THREE COMPANIES AFFECTED

The Government announced this Friday a series of measures so that “the agreed prices of the products being manufactured are preserved and respected and the recipients of these products are determined.”

These measures affect Alimentos Polar, which is part of the Empresas Polar conglomerate, and two other companies: Plumrose, a sausage company, and a slaughterhouse in Tumero, in the central state of Aragua.

Among these measures is the supervised sale of its products by the National Superintendency for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights (Sundde), an entity that reports to the Ministry of Commerce.

In the statement, Alimentos Polar criticized that while Sundee was inspecting one of its plants in Turmero, the measure “was surprisingly announced on television without any administrative procedure, nor was there any justification.”

Officials from the National Superintendence of Agri-Food Management (Sunagro) and the National Autonomous Service for Standardization, Quality, Metrology and Technical Regulations (Sencamer) also participated in said inspection, the information added.

Likewise, they denounced the “hostile, disrespectful” attitude of the superintendent in charge of the inspection and that during the same threatened the personnel of the facility and evaded “all the internal security protocol”, including the one imposed by the Government in the face of the COVID pandemic -19, a disease from which 318 people have already been infected in Venezuela and has killed ten.

Also, according to their complaint, they threatened the arrest of the plant manager.

THE GOVERNMENT IS ACCUSED OF CAUSING “ANGUSTIA AND ZOZOBRA”

Alimentos Polar is a manufacturer of the traditional “PAN” corn flour and other products that are ubiquitous on Venezuelan tables.

Mendoza denounced that the actions taken by the Government “only attempt against the supply of the entire private and public commercial network that the company serves” and that “far from helping the tranquility of the country, it generates anguish and anxiety.”

Although the Fair Prices Law, the norm that protects the measure adopted by the Government, had not been repealed, its effects, including price control, had been relaxed since June last year.

All this in a country that has been experiencing a period of hyperinflation since November 2017 that has relaxed in recent months.

THEY HAVE THE COLLABORATION OF MILITARY

Mendoza indicated that his companies have used “own resources” to import raw materials “at international costs and at the exchange rates with which the private industry works, with full knowledge of the authorities.”

In Venezuela and since 2003, the Government promoted exchange control of the bolivar, which has generated various distortions in the economy as well as a parallel exchange rate – the so-called “black dollar” -, almost always above the official price.

In this context, the businessman also affirmed that to the problems of the country’s economy are added those of the supply of fuel and electric power and added that they are “making an extraordinary effort” together with the country’s military authorities to obtain gasoline and ” to be able to continue operating in the best possible way. “

“They have collaborated on security matters to guard the facilities and distribute food in a complex situation that the country is experiencing,” Mendoza said, referring to the military and reiterated that “these joint efforts cannot be allowed to be hampered by irregular actions that threaten the supply “.

A MEASURE WITH PRECEDENTS

The regulation of retail prices for basic necessities, such as milk, sugar or corn flour, has been a constant of the Chavista governments.

In 2018, the Sundde inspected hundreds of businesses across the country – together with the Police and the National Guard – and forced the prices of some products to drop.

The forced sales caused long queues and riots in businesses across the country, where supermarkets and other establishments were left empty after the discounts.

At that time, business associations warned of the possible closure of some of their partners by being forced to sell at a loss.

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