CARACAS – The Venezuelan government ordered Tuesday that sidewalk vendors may only sell basic foods if they respect price controls and guarantee the necessary conditions of “hygiene and healthfulness.”
A resolution published in the official gazette made official the “absolute ban on sales” of basic foods “in the informal economy where there is no guarantee of compliance with the prices established by the national administration.”
The ban is also in force when sidewalk vendors cannot guarantee the necessary “conditions of hygiene and healthfulness of foods for human consumption,” media outlets, citing the official gazette, said.
Foods subject to the government resolution are “rice, pre-cooked cornflour, wheat flour, pasta, beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, goat and pork.”
Also included are canned sardines, tuna and mackerel; powdered whole milk, pasteurized and sterilized with a long shelf life; cheese, eggs, soy milk, edible oils except olive oil; margarine, legumes, sugar, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, ground coffee, coffee beans, and salt.
The official resolution allows 30 days for sidewalk vendors to conform to the official measure, and says that whoever infringes it will be penalized with the “confiscation of their goods.”
In Venezuela, food with price controls such as coffee, sugar and cornflour periodically disappear from supermarket and grocery-store shelves, while at the same time sidewalk vendors can be found selling them at much higher prices than those fixed by the government.
President Hugo Chavez’s government is applying the measure to street sales of basic foods at a time when their intermittent scarcity has increased and food-price inflation is running at 20.5 percent.
Chavez’s socialist government has maintained price controls since 2003 on roughly 100 food and medical products, among others, considered to be basic necessities, with the aim of guaranteeing their access to most of the population. EFE