11 Nov 2013

Bargain hunters flock to confiscated stores in Venezuela

5:47 am on 11 November 2013

Bargain hunters in Venezuela have flocked to a chain of electronics shops after President Nicolas Maduro ordered their seizure.

Mr Maduro accused the Daka chain of overcharging and said it would now be forced to have "fair prices".

He has since announced the seizure of the JVG store in eastern Caracas, saying it was used by the wealthy elites of the city.

In a speech on Friday night, Mr Maduro promised to sell Daka's stock of plasma televisions, washing machines and other merchandise.

"We're doing this for the good of the nation. Leave nothing on the shelves, nothing in the warehouses!" he said.

The BBC reports bargain hunters were quick to join overnight queues to buy the merchandise, some of it at a quarter of the price listed earlier in the week.

The move against Daka came after weeks of government warnings against pre-Christmas price rises.

President Maduro often accuses wealthy businesses of hoarding goods in order to push up prices.

But critics of the government say economic mismanagement, rather than unscrupulous retailers, is responsible for inflation and shortages of basic goods such as milk and toilet paper. Inflation is now running at 54%.