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Venezuela Sets Price Caps on 19 Personal Care Products

Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuela will lower the price of 19 personal care products, including shampoo, diapers and soap by as much as 25 percent as part of a new law that seeks to slow inflation with price caps, Vice President Elias Jaua said today.

The government ordered companies such as Procter & Gamble Co. and Unilever Plc to lower the price of shampoo by 25 percent, Jaua said today. The price of medium-size diapers must come down by 23 percent while toilet paper must be reduced by 11 percent, he said.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is currently in Cuba to undergo a third operation in his battle against cancer, created a price regulation agency last year to slow inflation that he says is fueled by capitalist speculation through widening already existing price regulations. Venezuela’s annual inflation rate was 26 percent in January, the highest of 83 economies tracked by Bloomberg.

“It’s necessary to have a strong state to protect the people from capitalism,” Jaua said today in comments broadcast on state television.

During a review of how companies calculate prices, the government price regulator discovered that firms were passing on their tax costs to the public, Jaua said. The new prices will take effect April 1 and be published in tomorrow’s Official Gazette, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at cdevereux3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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