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Venezuelan president uses new decree powers to extend grip over economy

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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds the documents granting him emergency decree powers as he gestures to supporters at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. Venezuela's congress granted Maduro emergency decree powers that will allow him to approve laws without consulting congress for up to a year. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)The Associated Press

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is taking advantage of newly granted emergency powers to extend grip over the inflation-plagued economy.

Maduro on Thursday signed a decree limiting the profits of companies to ensure they don't overcharge consumers and another that gives the government greater control over imports to make sure dwindling dollar reserves aren't misspent.

Maduro had promised to enact both measures in the run up to Tuesday's vote by congress, which granted him the authority to pass laws without consulting lawmakers for a year. It's unknown how he'll use the mandate next though. Opponents say the thinly-disguised power grab will further weaken Venezuela's democracy after 15 years of socialist rule.

The president this month slashed prices on appliances to recover support eroded by 54 percent inflation and mounting shortages.