Price of corn flour in Venezuela rises by 900 per cent

A corn field in Lubumbashi, on June 1, 2015.
A corn field in Lubumbashi, on June 1, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

CARACAS (AFP) - Venezuelans on Tuesday (May 24) woke up to discover that the government-controlled price of corn flour - used to make corn patty arepas, a staple of local cuisine - has risen by 900 per cent.

The socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro had kept the price of corn flour frozen for 15 months at 19 bolivares (S$2.63) a kg.

But late on Monday, the government's Superintendent of Fair Prices increased the price to 190 bolivares a kg at the government rate used for imports like medicine and scarce food.

Flour is one of the most scarce food basics, and the Venezuelan Association of Corn Flour Industrialists has been asking for a price increase, arguing that the low government-set price does not cover the cost of production.

The Superintendent also said that the price of chicken would rise, up 13 times from 65 bolivares a kilo to 850 bolivares.

The price of chicken had also been frozen since February 2015.

Venezuela is enduring the world's highest inflation rate: 180 per cent in 2015, and a projected 700 per cent for 2016.

Officials said in early May that the price of controlled products would be updated to better reflect the cost incurred by producers.

A "Law of Just Prices" sets a maximum profit margin of 30 percent for all goods and services.

But in the case of food and medicine, a senior official said that profits are "compressed" to between 14 per cent and 20 percent.

Venezuela's oil-dependent economy has been crippled by the plunge in price of petroleum on global markets.