(Corrects currency to bolivars not dollars, and name of manager
to Cahen not Cohen)
CARACAS, June 18 Kimberly-Clark Corp is
planning a 234 million bolivar ($37.1 mln) investment to expand
operations in Venezuela, the state news agency said, in a move
that should help ease an embarrassing national shortage of
Scarcity of some food items, medicines and basic bathroom
products has marred the start of President Nicolas Maduro's
government, which began in April.
The shortages have become symbolic of the South American
OPEC nation's increasingly tangled economic problems,
particularly a shortage of dollars for importers.
The government blames private businesses for hoarding and
price-gouging. Critics say the shortages, high inflation, and
slowing growth are the result of nationalizations and other
socialist economics under Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez.
Officials say the problems are easing, though Venezuelans
still complain they cannot find many items, and queues at
supermarkets are a common scene across the nation.
"When the shortages occurred, the productive sector,
together with the government, designed a strategy to combat it.
Now things are fine," Trade Minister Alejandro Fleming said
after a meeting with representatives of the U.S. company,
according to state news agency AVN.
Kimberly-Clark has a 15 percent market share for toilet
paper, AVN said, and also makes other products such as sanitary
towels and diapers.
The general manager of its local subsidiary, David Cahen,
said the 234 million bolivar investment would be made over 6 to
24 months, according to AVN. That would increase the company's
local capacity by 30 to 40 percent, it said.
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)