CARACAS: President Nicolas Maduro said Monday his leftist government will set car prices in a bid to lower their cost.
Maduro, using a newly-acquired power to rule by decree, ordered in an address on state television that "car production be regulated and strengthened in Venezuela, ... to lower the prices of new cars made in Venezuela, and of imports and of used cars."
Maduro had promised Sunday that he would decree new regulations on car prices, as part of the special powers conferred on him to combat corruption and so-called economic war.
He maintains a "parasitic bourgeoisie" and US interests are out to derail his socialist revolution's economic goals.
The decree was to have been signed Monday, Maduro said, but is now awaiting a meeting Tuesday with members of his economic team and the auto industry.
The State "will assume control of the vehicle production process and ... set the fair prices" of locally made cars, Maduro added, warning what he called "mafias" who control prices that their days were numbered.
New car prices cannot be higher than used car prices, he said, a strangely commonplace phenomenon in this oil-rich OPEC member state, plagued by inflation, currency shortages, blackouts and stagnant growth.
People who open foreign currency accounts in state banks, in the coming months, will be granted a license to buy an imported car, Maduro added. No date was given.
The president has already used his new powers -- conferred on him for one year by the National Assembly -- to order lower rents for commercial spaces and prevent property owners from asking for payments in foreign currency.
He imposed price controls and capped profit margins at 30 percent, and has vowed to arrest shopkeepers who violate his rules.
This latest salvo comes just days before Maduro is set to face a key test of political strength on December 8, when municipal elections will take place in the midst of a burgeoning economic crisis.
It will be the first vote since Maduro succeeded his political mentor, late leader Hugo Chavez, in April elections whose tight results the opposition has refused to recognize.