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Venezuela Orders National Guard to Oversee Toilet Paper Factory

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s government issued an order to occupy toilet paper producer Manufacturas de Papel C.A. as the South American country struggles to abate shortages of consumer goods.

National price regulator Sundecop will temporally take over plants owned by Manpa, as the Caracas-based company is known, to verify production processes and distribution before placing them under the watch of the National Guard, the agency said today in an e-mailed statement.

“The action taken at the producer of toilet paper, sanitary napkins and disposable diapers corresponds to the obligation of the state to guarantee the normal supply of primary necessities,” Sundecop said in the statement.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has cut dollar supplies for importers since winning election in April, creating shortages of goods including toilet paper and butter and stoking one of the world’s highest inflation rates. His predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chavez, nationalized more than 1,000 companies or their assets before dying in March this year.

Annual inflation accelerated to 45.4 percent last month from 42.6 percent in July, while the scarcity index measuring the amount of goods out of stock on store shelves reached 20 percent, the central bank said Sept. 10.

The country devalued the official exchange rate to 6.3 bolivars per dollar from 4.3 bolivars in February. On the black market, one dollar currently buys around 43.97 bolivars, according to dolartoday.com, which tracks the exchange rate on the border with Colombia.

A new complementary foreign exchange system being designed in Venezuela will be “transparent but highly regulated and supervised,” central bank director Armando Leon said on Sept. 18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nathan Crooks in Caracas at ncrooks@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net

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