CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro accused the owner of the country's largest privately-held company of reducing food production and creating shortages amid record scarcity and the region’s fastest inflation.
Maduro claimed to have "many signs" that Empresas Polar SA has been cutting production and hiding supples to create shortages of products such as pre-cooked corn flour. Corn flour is used to make arepas, or patties, that are a breakfast staple in many Venezuelan homes.
Venezuela’s scarcity index, which measures the amount of goods that are out of stock on the market, rose to 21.3 percent last month, the highest since the central bank started tracking the measure in April 2009. Maduro this week visited Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil.
Brazil is studying emergency food sales to Venezuela, Marco Aurelio Garcia, foreign policy adviser to President Dilma Rousseff, said last week.
Venezuela wants to work with Polar, Maduro said in an appearance on state television. He ordered Vice President Jorge Arreaza to arrange a meeting in his offices.
“We are willing to go to the necessary institutions to cooperate with the search for solutions that favor the Venezuelan people and collaborate with the country’s food security,” Polar said in a statement posted on its Facebook page, adding that the company would attend the meeting.
Maduro defeated the opposition’s Henrique Capriles Radonski by 1.49 percent, the narrowest margin in 45 years, on April 14 after Hugo Chavez died March 5 from an undisclosed type of cancer. Capriles is contesting the result in the Supreme Court, while the electoral council finishes an audit of the votes.
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