Aug 6 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has decreed a package of 26 laws increasing the state’s power over the economy in the run-up to hotly contested regional elections. The following are the key measures included in the package:
* The laws facilitate the expropriation of property linked to the production of “essential” food, goods and services. The executive branch can decree which goods are essential and begin expropriation proceedings, without a court order, of businesses that produce these goods.
* The government can intervene with “necessary measures” at any step of the supply chain of essential goods and services if it determines private parties are not operating “to the satisfaction of collective needs.”
* The president can decree new price controls on any goods deemed essential, possibly expanding existing price controls that have already brought complaints by business leaders.
* The laws boost the government’s role as an actor in the economy rather than a simply a regulator. For example, authorities together with government-backed community groups will determine the levels of consumption of different food products for specific regions of the country.
* Authorities now have the power to annul standardized contracts between private parties, such as those consumers often sign for cellular phone or cable television services, if the government determines the contracts are abusive. The contracts can be annulled without the involvement of a court. (Reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Caracas; Editing by Bill Trott)