The biometric rationing system set to be deployed throughout the country by the end of the year appears to be causing some confusion.
Since its announcement, the government has made it clear that fingerprint scanning machines will be installed at every cash register in every supermarket, corner store and pharmacy in the country.
However, Luis Rodriguez, the president of the Asociacion Nacional de Supermercados Autoservicios y Afines (ANSA) [National Association of Supermarkets and Related Industries] said that he was under the impression that each individual business would be able to decide whether or not they would accept the installation of the fingerprint scanner.
We’re a bit anxious to find out the voluntary nature of the system will involve the consumers or also the businesses (…) as of now, it looks like businesses will be able to voluntarily [opt-into the system].
He also said that, according to a meeting he had with government officials, the fingerprint scanner system will not ration food. Rather, it will compile purchasing data and highlight individuals who are buying “too much”. At that point,
… they [the government] will decide whether or not to call these people and find out why they’re buying so much.
Roig’s statements appear to fly in the face of previous assertions by the government that the fingerprint scanner system would be mandatory for every single business that sells food and related products, and that weekly limits would indeed be placed on purchases.
Just yesterday, the Superintendent of Fair Prices, Andres Eloy Mendez, said that the fingerprint scanner system would place a weekly limit on how much of a given product individuals are allowed to buy.
Scarcity Shows No Signs of Improvement
The Federacion Farmaceutiva de Venezuela (FFV) [Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation] asked the government to enact “emergency policies” to deal with the scarcity crisis crippling the country.
Freddy Ceballos, the president of FFV, spoke on a radio interview today, saying:
We’ve told them… they have to enact emergency policies so that these products [medicine] can reach the country.
Things cannot continue this way. Patients cannot die thanks to the negligence and incompetence of a government that doesn’t know what it’s doing.
Ceballos explained that medication for hypertension and seizures and epilepsy are among the most scarce.
At the same time, the Camara Venezolana de Insdustrias Lacteas (CAVILAC) [Venezuelan Chamber of Dairy Industries] released a statement saying that national milk production is only able to meet 40% of current demand.
Roger Figueroa, the president of the organization, said that strict government price controls are to blame for the scarcity:
When it comes to milk, prices have to be corrected. It’s not possible to produce pasteurized milk and sell it for Bs. 6.30 when you’re spending Bs. 20 on raw materials.
Finally, pictures from a disturbance in Maracaibo, Zulia. National Guard troops there appear to have dispersed protesters with tear gas today: