Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Beyond the Demonization of Chavez: Half Of Venezuela’s Budget Goes To Social Spending

Related: "Poll: Approval of Venezuelan President Increases"

by Tamara Pearson
October 20th 2008

Mérida, October 20, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)-- Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez announced on Friday that around 48% of the national budget for 2009 would go towards social investment. This includes food programs, health, education, and the various social missions. Chavez also provided BsF. 509 million (US$ 237 million) to the communal councils that day.

This year the proportion of the budget for social spending was 45%, or BsF. 64.7 billion (US$ 30 billion).

"The budget that the National Assembly is discussing at the moment will be BsF. 78.6 billion, which would be about US$ 44 billion. It's on a socialist course. One can measure the orientation of the government in its budget," Chavez said.

He compared this budget with the amount of money the United States designates for defense. "The North American congress approved 612 billion dollars for defense expenses in 2009. This is the Venezuelan budget multiplied eight times. I am sure that within [their defense budget] there is an item that says ‘plan against Venezuela and Latin America,'" said Chavez.

"Every year we will be looking at ways to increase [social investment] and decrease unnecessary spending," he added.

Also on Friday, to mark the International Day of Struggle against Poverty, the Venezuelan government delivered BsF 509 million ($US 237 million) to "popular power," which means the communal councils and their various community projects.

So far this year BsF 3.2 billion ($US 1.49 billion) have been granted to 8,800 projects. The most recent amount delivered will finance 1,547 social projects that cover some of the basic needs of the communities.

Chavez showed that in 2006 BsF 3.2 billion (US$ 1.5 billion) were also assigned to the communal banks and organized communities and in 2007 BsF 2.1 billion (US$ 976 million) were provided.

"While the big banks in the north are collapsing...[and their] economy is entering a recession, there's no credit for the productive economy...[but] in Venezuela we continue creating and giving birth to the communal banks."

He also encouraged the communal councils to organize themselves to propel the communes and in this way advance the revolution from the bases.

The communes were a new form of regional organization proposed last year as part of the constitutional reforms. They were to be the basic unit of the socialist state, made up of multiple communal councils (which are community decision bodies of about 400 members), cooperatives, and with socialist structured exchange.

"The communes should be made up of the inhabitants of the community, and if there is someone there who belongs to the Democratic Action party, it doesn't matter, call them, incorporate them, and convince them that this is the way and that there is space for everyone."


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