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Venezuela to impose excess profit tax to boost social programs

MEXICO CITY, April 17 (RIA Novosti) - Venezuela's parliament has adopted a law to introduce an excess profit tax for oil producers to boost social development amid soaring global oil prices, Mexican media said on Thursday.

Oil prices hit a successive record high of $114.08 per barrel on global markets on Wednesday.

"The special tax revenue to be managed by the country's president will be channeled into the development of the social sector, industries, and programs to strengthen regional authorities," the new law says.

Under the law, the tax will be set at 50% if an oil barrel costs $70-100, and 60% at over $100 per barrel.

The excess profit tax is expected to yield up to $9 billion from the country's oil monopoly Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and foreign oil producers active in the country.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez placed his country's oil industry under total government control when he came to power in 1999. Venezuela has raised oil tax for foreign companies from 16.6% to 30% since 2005, and nationalized all private oil projects last year.

The state monopoly on oil has enabled the country to maintain the world's lowest fuel prices, which currently stand at around $0.06 per liter.

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