Caracas: Venezuela`s leftist government said Saturday it temporarily seized a major toilet paper factory hoping that it can end troublesome shortages of the staple personal care item.
"The temporary occupation of Manpa (Manufactora de Papel) is aimed at verifying that toilet paper industry production, marketing and distribution" are all in line with state policies, Vice President Jorge Arreaza said on Twitter, without indicating how long the takeover would last.
He said the decision had been taken by an economic panel sworn in last week by President Nicolas Maduro, a close ally of Communist-ruled Cuba.
OPEC member Venezuela has vast crude oil resources, sitting atop the world`s largest proven reserves.
But efforts to centralize its economy like Havana have seen the country reach an inflation rate of 32.9 per cent, and a toilet paper shortage rate of 20 per cent, according to government data.
Even hospitals have reported food shortages, while citizens routinely deal with shortages of coffee, flour, sugar or personal care basics like toilet paper.
Venezuela imports half the food it consumes, and the government also has been taking over large farms hoping it can boost domestic production and supply.
Maduro last week claimed the White House is plotting the "collapse" of his government next month by sabotaging food, electricity and fuel supplies.
Maduro`s predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, also made regular claims about several alleged US plots to kill him.