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Energy saving plan worries Venezuela's businesses

President Hugo Chavez’s energy saving plan for easing severe electricity shortages will hurt Venezuela’s manufacturing sector as the country struggles through a recession, business leaders and analysts say.

Chavez declared an energy emergency this week, announcing he will punish businesses and industries that use what the government considers excessive amounts of electricity, while rewarding those that cut consumption with discounts.
The conservation plan requires large businesses and factories to cut use 20 percent or face sanctions, including 24- to 48-hour shutdowns and hefty increases in electricity rates for companies singled out as excessive energy consumers.

Ismael Perez Vigil, executive president of Conindustria, the country’s largest industry chamber, said Tuesday that business owners expect the plan to cause a further decline in manufacturing. The chamber already had predicted a 7 percent to 10 percent drop in production before the plan was announced.


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