Venezuela's National Assembly has made moves to wipe up a situation that has kept the South American nation running low on toilet paper.
In an effort to relieve a chronic shortage of the vital bathroom hygienic product, lawmakers in Caracas approved a $79 million credit for the country's ministry of commerce to ship in toilet paper, toothpaste and soap.
Despite having one of the world’s largest oil reserves, the OPEC nation has consistently suffered periodic shortages of several consumer goods since price controls were imposed in 2003 under the late socialist leader Hugo Chávez.
"We have consistently denounced the strategy of hoarding and speculation, and the campaign of terror that has spread among the people, forcing them to buy compulsively and fearfully," ruling party lawmaker José Avila said, according to Agence France Presse.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has blamed the chronic shortages on a conspiracy between opposition political parties and wealthy Venezuelans who are unhappy with him continuing the "21st-century socialism" implemented by Chávez.
Analysts, however, argue that those same controls - nationalization and extensive social programs, for example – have created large imbalances that have harmed the economy and led to shortages.
"Price controls, for example, act as a disincentive to local producers, forcing them to cut output," said the survey organization Consensus Economics, according to the BBC. “"The resulting scarcity forces up inflation, defeating the entire purpose of price controls in the first place."
Along with the shortages, Venezuela has suffered from widespread power outages, rampant crime in the capital and political unrest following last month’s presidential election.
Henrique Capriles, who lost to Maduro in the election, has claimed that the vote was stolen and vowed to take his complaint to international bodies.
Patience is wearing thin among consumers who face shortages and long lines at supermarkets and pharmacies. Last month, Venezuela's scarcity index reached its highest level since 2009, while the 12-month inflation rate has risen to nearly 30 percent. Shoppers often spend several days looking for basic items, and stock up when they find them.