Venezuela's congress voted Tuesday to give President Nicolas Maduro the power to legislate by decree for the next 12 months.

The leftist head of state said he needed the additional authority to battle corruption and remedy economic imbalances in the oil-rich Andean nation.

Maduro's PSUV party has a majority in the National Assembly.

"It is a law for the rescue of civic ethics and for a new economy," PSUV lawmaker Tania Diaz said. "The task now is urgent. Those business-owners who are against the country are forcing us at this moment to wage a battle against usury, speculation."

Opposition legislators voted as a bloc against the measure.

"We think there is nothing more contrary to democracy than this enabling law," government opponent Andres Velasquez said.

Maduro, who was narrowly elected in April following the death of long-time President Hugo Chavez, his political mentor, contends that elements of the opposition and the business community are engaged in an "economic war" against his government.

The government has blamed power blackouts on sabotage of the power grid and attributes shortages of consumers goods to hoarding, speculation and other forms of manipulation by wholesalers and retailers. EFE