Argentina's congress has approved a law that lets the government intervene in setting prices and profits.

Economy Minister Axel Kicillof says the measure will defend consumers against "the innumerable abuses we suffer every day." But local business leaders say it's likely to aggravate shortages and inflation by discouraging people from selling price-controlled goods.

The law gives the state power to set profit margins as well as maximum and minimum prices. Companies that set prices considered "artificial or unjustified" can be fined. A major farm association called the Argentine Rural Society argues the measure would let the government seize grains stored by farmers.

As passed, the law exempts most small and medium companies.

The lawmakers also created a government agency to monitor prices and a legal system to resolve consumer complaints.