Many nations during war or hard times institute food rationing to make sure there’s enough for everyone and to prevent the connected few from buying up more than their share and selling food at prices several times higher
Electronic cards that restrict families to shopping once a week aim to prevent widespread food shortages across country.
4 April 2014 Virginia López. theguardian.com
Venezuelans queued on Friday to register for an ID card that will limit Venezuelans to once-a-week shopping and will set off an alarm if a purchaser breaks the rules. The government wants to prevent shoppers from “over-buying” in a country hit by acute shortages of basic items including milk, sugar and toilet paper and selling them at many times the original price.
By keeping a record of what is purchased and limiting shopping trips, the electronic card is supposed to curb hoarding and prevent speculative shoppers from buying to resell at a profit. But the larger aim is to halt the huge outflow of food to neighboring Colombia, where it sells for up to 10 times as much. It is estimated that almost 40% of Venezuela‘s food is transported illegally across the border.
Outside the Bicentenario megastore in Plaza Venezuela, a middle-class neighbourhood in the capital, Caracas, the line stretches for several blocks. Some of the people here have come to register for the new system; others simply want to buy food. Most of them have already been waiting for several hours. They are desperate over what they say is a lifetime spent standing in queues. The card, they hope, will put an end to a perverse cycle they say they cannot bear for much longer.
“This card will take the edge, the sense of panic, out of shopping. If we know that we will find rice or milk next time we come we don’t need to stock up and so there will be more to go around,” says Oscar Romero, as he orders a cup of coffee from a street vendor to make the wait more pleasant.