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Toilet paper shortage in Venezuela

Published:Thursday | May 16, 2013 | 4:27 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP):

Venezuelans scrambled to stock up on toilet paper as fears of a bathroom emergency spread despite the government's promise to import 50 million rolls.

The country has gotten used to shortages of medicines and basic food items like milk and sugar but the scarcity of bathroom tissue has caused unusual alarm.

"Even at my age, I've never seen this," said 70-year-old Maria Rojas.

She said she had been looking for toilet paper for two weeks when she finally found it at a supermarket in downtown Caracas.

Thousands of rolls flew off the store's shelves as consumers streamed in and loaded up shopping carts this morning.

Economists say Venezuela's shortages of some consumer products stem from price controls meant to make basic goods available to the poorest parts of society and the government's controls on foreign currency.

The government this week announced it would import 760,000 tons of food and 50 million rolls of toilet paper.

Patience is wearing thin among consumers who face shortages and long lines at supermarkets and pharmacies.

Last month, Venezuela's scarcity index reached its highest level since 2009, while the 12-month inflation rate has risen to nearly 30 per cent.

Shoppers often spend several days looking for basic items, and stock up when they find them.


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