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Mr. Chavez’s government also is attempting to battle rising prices through a new law that expands price controls to a wider range of goods in addition to food and gives the government more enforcement authority.

Some of the new items under price controls will include personal hygiene products such as diapers, shampoo, razors and toothpaste.

Central Bank President Nelson Merentes recently estimated that the new Law of Costs and Fair Prices could reduce inflation by 3 percentage points.

But business groups and analysts warn that more price controls probably will discourage private sector investment and lead to more shortages on store shelves.