Venezuela caps prices for commercial leases

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is capping rental prices for commercial real estate as he steps up a campaign against businesses he accuses of trying to sabotage the economy by stoking inflation.

Maduro on Friday said he signed a decree preventing commercial leases from exceeding 250 bolivars per square meter a month, or about $40 at the official exchange rate. Disputes between property owners and their tenants must also now be resolved by a government agency instead of private arbiters.

Maduro this month seized control of several appliance stores and slashed prices on fridges, televisions and other goods to slow inflation running at a two-decade high of 54 percent.

Store owners have argued that they risk going out of business because rent and other costs are rising too fast while price controls expand.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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