Venezuela denies food, goods shortage

Updated May 17, 2013 at 6:59 AM

CARACAS, Venezuela, May 16 (UPI) -- Venezuelan officials said they will import 50 million rolls of toilet paper to meet the country's demand.

Toilet paper, along with other basic goods and food, have been in short supply on store shelves over the past few months, CNN said.

The government and private companies have been blaming each other for the scarcity of the goods.

Venezuelan Minister of Commerce Alejandra Fleming announced the toilet paper decision Tuesday, and also blamed the media for provoking fear in consumers — who have responded by hoarding goods, he said.

"We are going to saturate the market so that our people will calm down and understand that they should not let themselves be manipulated by the media that says there are shortages," he said.

But Venezuelans said the shortages are real, and that cooking staples, like rice and oil, are also scarce.

In Caracas, customers stand in extremely long lines to buy toilet paper rolls when they are in stock, CNN said.

Businesses have said that the government's price controls and restrictions on foreign currency are discouraging domestic production.

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