the papers, it is evident that the Venezuelan Government manages preferential
currencies at its discretion, at 10 bolivars per U.S. dollar, an insignificant
value if compared to the "curb market" dollar, almost 500 times higher. Saved
for Procter & Gamble and MSD Farmacéutica, no private company had foreign
currency payments for an amount close to those US$ 340 million in 2015 or 2016.
Alex Saab did get a better deal.
Grand Limited takes a good part of the US$ 340 million cake. Between January 8
and 30 of the current year, the company issued at least 149 invoices to the
company of the State Government of Táchira for about 212.3 million U.S. dollars
corresponding to the sale of a total of 95.1 million kg (209,659,611.34 lb) of
food —an average of US$ 2.23 per kilo.
the business Group Grand Limited only acts as a trader and charges in advance.
The goods shipped were mayonnaise, beans, canned tuna, pasta, precooked corn
flour, refined vegetable oil, tomato sauce, sugar, rice, milk powder and
entrepreneurs agree that the products are overpriced, considering that they were
bought as wholesale products. For example, Group Grand Limited charged US$ 6.29
per kilo of tuna,
US$ 7.39 for tomato sauce, and US$ 8.17 for mayonnaise, to
mention those with the highest surcharge. "The prices are exaggerated, very
high," says a food sector entrepreneur after analyzing the
search for international prices confirms the opinion of the entrepreneur. In
supermarkets in Colombia, for example, the tomato sauce that Group Grand Limited
billed at US$ 7.39 does not exceed US$ 5. Something similar occurred with canned
tuna. Venezuelan supermarkets buy the 140-gram (5 oz) presentation at around 1
to 2 U.S. dollars. The same happens with grains and pasta. "We are buying beans
at US$ 0.99 a kilo and they are selling it at US$ 1.77," warned another
entrepreneur. "The cost of the pasta we import ranges from US$ 1 to US$ 1.25 per
kilo, but they charge it at US$ 2.22." In both cases the surcharge is around
numerous occasions, Cavidea has questioned the fact that the Government favors
imports of finished products rather than the purchase of raw materials for
companies. In that organization they repeat that "with one million U.S. dollars
the national industry produces five times more than it would be obtained by
imports." Juan Pablo Olalquiaga, president of the Venezuelan Confederation of
Industrialists (Conindustria), has a similar position. "The CLAPs sell imported
products that generate work in other countries, it is a highly inefficient use
of foreign exchange," he said recently in a press
adding each product sold by Group Grand Limited to the box, the CLAPs - with
about 16 kilos of products - would cost approximately US$ 34, which at the rate
of 10 bolivars per U.S. dollar, would be equal to Bs. 340, a figure well below
between the 12 thousand to 18 thousand bolivars of the official price. These
figures have alarmed members of the Venezuelan opposition, who have been
reporting corruption in the CLAP system, as well as inconsistencies in prices
for months. The figures also bring down the recent version of the Minister of
Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Jesus Faría, who assured that the CLAPs
were being imported at the complementary exchange rate (Dicom) set at around Bs.
700 per U.S. dollar.