Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned that his government could expropriate some milk plants to confront shortages, singling out Italy-based Parmalat SpA and Swiss-based Nestle SA.
Chavez mentioned the two companies -- both of which have operations in Venezuela -- during his weekly program on Sunday, saying such companies sometimes "pressure" Venezuelan farmers to obtain their milk for export.
"It's no use for us to be setting up plants [if] then there is no milk for the plants because Parmalat or ... Nestle take it all away,"" Chavez said. "That's where I say this government has to tighten the screws."
If companies ensure a supply through "blackmail, offering money up front" while leaving state-run plants without enough milk, "that's called sabotage," Chavez said.
He added that in such cases, "the plants must be taken over and expropriated."
Sporadic shortages of basic goods like milk, chicken, flour and sugar have irritated consumers for months, and the problem has been considered a political liability for Chavez since he lost a vote last year on constitutional changes that would have let him run for re-election indefinitely.
Critics blame government price controls and a poor investment climate, while the government notes that strong economic growth has boosted demand for meat and milk.
Chavez also accused his opponents of plotting to ensure food shortages by hoarding supplies ahead of state and local elections in November.
"We're facing an economic conspiracy and we're obliged to act," he said, withing giving details.
In another measure, Chavez announced the government is raising its government-set consumer price for rice by 31 percent as an incentive to help boost rice production. Rice farmers will see even larger increases while benefiting from subsidies, he said.
Venezuela has long imported most of its food and Chavez's government has found itself hard-pressed to change that. He said on Saturday the government will create a US$500 million fund to boost the dairy industry.
The Czech Republic’s Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution that supports a possible visit by the senate president to Taiwan. The resolution, initiated by Czech Senator Pavel Fischer, was passed with 50 votes in favor, one against and one abstention. The resolution blasts Beijing for having its Prague embassy send a letter to former Czech Senate president Jaroslav Kubera earlier this year threatening repercussions for Czech businesses if he visited Taiwan. The resolution shows the Senate’s support for a visit to Taiwan by Senate President Milos Vystrcil, accompanied by Czech business representatives, as the visit would be in the diplomatic long-term interests
The government and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday both spoke out against plans by the Chinese government to enact a national security law in Hong Kong. Chinese officials yesterday confirmed that the National People’s Congress would review a bill “on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security.” The Presidential Office said that the announcement was evidence that the “one country, two systems” framework fundamentally clashes with democratic freedoms. The de-escalation of tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing relies on the Chinese government’s willingness to respond to Hong Kongers’ demands,
STRONGER DEFENSES: The announcement could be considered tacit US support for the nation’s indigenous arms manufacturing program, Joseph Wu told lawmakers Just hours after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration on Wednesday, the US Department of State’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced in Washington the possible sale of 18 MK-48 Heavy Weight Torpedoes to Taiwan. Reacting to the announcement, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday told a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee that the ministry applauded the US move, which would help to uphold the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). The TRA states that the US should “provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character … to maintain the capacity of the US to resist any resort
NPP WARNING: The NPP’s chairman said that a security law proposed by Beijing means it has renounced its promise to maintain ‘one country, two systems’ in HK The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) yesterday proposed changing the law to provide protection for those seeking political asylum. China at the opening of the National People’s Congress in Beijing on Thursday introduced a draft security law for Hong Kong to ban treason, subversion and sedition, with a review expected next week. TPP caucus whip Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿) said that the party is concerned about democracy advocates in Hong Kong and has taken action to support them. The party has proposed an amendment to Article 18 of the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門關係條例), which stipulates that the government can offer