Chavez warns business after Venezuela devaluation
Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez ordered soldiers to seek out businesses that raise prices after a sharp devaluation of the bolivar currency last week, saying his government will not tolerate price speculation.
“Right now, there is absolutely no reason for anybody to be raising prices of absolutely anything,” he said on his weekly TV show, two days after announcing a dual exchange system for the fixed rate bolivar. “I want the National Guard on the streets with the people to fight against speculation,” he said to applause. “Publicly denounce the speculator and we will intervene in any business of any size.”
The former paratrooper says the devaluation will help make Venezuelan companies more competitive but he warned the government would take over shops and give them to their workers if price rises were discovered.
Venezuelans packed electrical goods stores Saturday, fearing prices will double as the cost of imports rise. Top officials have said in recent days that Venezuela’s inflation, already the highest in the Americas at 25 per cent last year, will be pushed up by the devaluation.