Caracas (AFP) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has promised to nationalize food distribution in the South American nation beset with record shortages of basic goods, runaway inflation and an escalating economic crisis.
During a rally Friday, on International Workers' Day, the socialist leader allowed a union activist to ask for the nationalization of food and essential-item distribution.
Citing new decree-making powers recently granted by the National Assembly, Maduro said he would carry out such a measure "in the coming days and weeks."
Maduro had pledged earlier in the week to announce economic reforms.
Various estimates suggest the government already controls about half of the country's food distribution, but that hasn't stopped record shortages in shops and markets.
Venezuela is struggling with a recession, 68.5-percent annual inflation and severe shortages of the basic goods that it relies on oil money to import.
On any given day, people in Venezuela can wait hours to get some subsidized milk, cooking oil, milk or flour -- if they can be found at all.
Maduro's government is strapped for cash in the face of a global supply glut that caused oil prices to collapse by more than 50 percent between June and January.
Nonetheless, Maduro also announced a 30-percent increase in public wages on Friday.
Maduro was elected by a razor-thin margin in April 2013, succeeding his late mentor Hugo Chavez, who died a month earlier after 14 years in power.