CARACAS, April 29 Venezuela's largest private
company, Empresas Polar, said on Tuesday it was halting
production of pasta due to delays in foreign currency
allocations from the government.
President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government is holding
meetings with business leaders in efforts to boost productivity
in the OPEC nation. But firms continue to complain of problems
including currency restrictions.
"The Polar Food plant in Maracaibo, which makes the pasta
brands Primor and Gran Senora, is obliged to temporarily suspend
operations due to a delay in currency payments," said Polar.
Companies pay local bolivars to state currency board
Cencoex, formerly known as Cadivi, to receive U.S. dollars for
imports. Polar said it needed to import wheat for pasta, a basic
staple in Venezuela.
"Operations stopped this Sunday April 27th, after our stocks
of wheat loaned from other companies ran out," the company
added, without saying how much it was owed in dollars.
Polar's statement came the same day as the International Air
Transport Association (IATA) complained Venezuela was dragging
its feet on releasing $3.9 billion owed to airlines for ticket
There was no immediate reaction from authorities to Polar or
the IATA, though Maduro has repeatedly said Venezuela will pay
all its debts to private business.
Polar is famous in Venezuela for making the nation's
top-selling beer and a brand of flour used for arepas, the
grilled corn dough patty that is another staple food.
It also distributes Pepsi-Cola in Venezuela.
Venezuela introduced currency controls in 2003 under the
late President Hugo Chavez, who frequently berated Polar and its
billionaire owner Lorenzo Mendoza as part of his trademark
Mendoza met Maduro in February in a high-profile televised
meeting in which he and other business leaders appealed for
greater flexibility and space for private enterprise in the
running of Venezuela's economy.
Venezuelans have been suffering severe shortages of basic
products from flour to milk for more than a year.
Businessmen say the government has squeezed private
enterprise while running state businesses incompetently, while
Maduro says a capitalist elite engaged in an "economic war" are
causing the shortages through speculation and hoarding.
(Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Brian Ellsworth and