Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that consumer prices rose 0.9 percent in March, which would be the lowest on record for the national price index published by the central bank and created in 2008.
Chavez, 57, said that Venezuela’s efforts to regulate prices on personal care and cleaning products as well as tightening caps on food goods is helping to pare inflationary pressure. He disclosed the number in a nationwide broadcast from the presidential palace, days ahead of the usual announcement by the central bank.
“We’re going to keep reviewing all prices in the economy, clothes, cars, food, medicine, everything, starting with the most essential to reduce to zero the capitalist speculation that most weighs on inflation,” Chavez said today from Caracas.
Venezuela, the largest oil producer in South America, has the highest annual inflation rate of 90 economies tracked by Bloomberg. Consumer prices rose 25.6 percent in February from a year earlier and 1.1 percent in February from January.
Chavez, who’s seeking re-election in October amid a battle with an undisclosed form of cancer, decreed the creation of a price regulation agency last year to install price caps on consumer goods. The law, which goes into effect tomorrow, began with 19 personal care and cleaning products, including toothpaste, toilet paper, bleach, diapers and shampoo.
U.S. consumer companies that produce the products, including Colgate-Palmolive Co., Procter & Gamble Co. and Johnson & Johnson, will have to cut prices by as much as 25 percent.
The Venezuelan Central Bank’s Caracas price index, which has data going back to at least 1990, was last below 1 percent in July 2007. The central bank will release the official consumer price report for March in the next two weeks.