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Venezuela to install fingerprint scanners at supermarkets nationwide in bid to ease shortages

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CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela will begin installing 20,000 fingerprint scanners at supermarkets nationwide in a bid to stamp out hoarding and panic buying, which the government blames for long lines and widespread shortages of basic goods.

The government has been selectively rolling out the rationing system for months at state-run supermarkets along the western border with Colombia where smuggling of price-controlled goods is a major problem.

On Saturday, President Nicolas Maduro said that seven large private retail chains had voluntarily agreed to install the scanners.

Economists say the effort is bound to fail. They blame Venezuela's rigid price controls that discourage local manufacturing and the recent slide in world oil prices that has further diminished the supply of dollars available to import everything from milk to cars.

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