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Tue Jun 3, 2014, 02:19 AM

Panama's president-elect plans price controls on basic foods

Panama's president-elect plans price controls on basic foods
By Christine Murray and Elida Moreno
PANAMA CITY Tue May 6, 2014 1:06pm EDT


(Reuters) - Panama's president-elect will impose price controls on a range of basic foods to dampen rising costs, a step that will hit his bitter rival, outgoing president and supermarket tycoon Ricardo Martinelli.

Juan Carlos Varela, the Panamenista Party (PP) leader and winner of Sunday's election, told Reuters he is clear what his first policy will be when he takes office on July 1.

"Establish emergency price controls on 22 products in the basic basket to lower the cost of living by more than $600 million for the Panamanian people and avoid speculation in products," he said.

The measure would apply to basic foods such as rice, cheese and meat, Varela said, adding that huge profit margins were being put on basic foodstuffs.

"We feel that this is very unfair for the people," Varela, a 50-year-old U.S.-trained engineer whose family owns Panama's largest liquor company, said in an interview.

Martinelli, who Varela helped to win election in 2009 before the two fell out acrimoniously, owns one of Panama's largest supermarket chains. When asked if the controls would apply to Martinelli's stores, Varela said: "Without a doubt."

More:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/06/us-panama-election-idUSBREA450P820140506?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&rpc=401


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