Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro vowed Tuesday to take new steps against what he calls an economic war against his country.
“We're going to continue down our economic path, building our nation, working, working, working,” Maduro said during his weekly television show, En Contacto con Maduro (In Contact with Maduro).
During the program, Maduro officially signed into law a 30 percent increase in the national minimum wage.
The increase will be implemented on November 1. This is the fourth minimum wage increase this year and the 30th in the last 15 years. According to Maduro, Venezuela's minimum wage has nearly doubled since last year, rising faster than inflation.
During the same program, Maduro announced his government will be reviewing price controls on basic consumer goods.
“All of the mechanisms of calculating the just prices (of consumer goods) will be changed … to protect our people,” he said.
Price controls on basic goods were introduced by Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez, who argued caps on retail prices would protect Venezuela's poor.
One of the main changes now proposed by Maduro will be a new categorization of goods, with the prices of priority goods like basic foods and medicine being determined by a different formula than other products, such as luxury items. While not going into details of how the new prices will be determined, Maduro said his government is committed to ensuring price controls guarantee fair prices for both consumers and producers.
He continued by explaining an overhaul of the government's price controls is needed to protect consumer buying power in the face of speculation and hoarding. The government says unscrupulous businesses and individuals hoard products to create artificial scarcities. When a product grows scarce, those hoarders then sell their goods at inflated prices.
“We will take measures to combat speculation and defend products and just prices,” he said.
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