Santa Elena de Uairen, November 18th, 2014. (venezuelanalysis.com)- On Monday, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro approved 12 workers’ proposals aimed at increasing economic stability for working class families.
The proposals were submitted by the Bolivarian Socialist Union of Workers (CBST), after a three-month period of 950 plenary sessions organized nationwide. The CBST is comprised of 1.3 million Venezuelans.
“I came to this conference … to seal a blood pact with the working class, to launch a socialist offensive to totally stabilize the national economy,” stated the Venezuelan leader during the 1st National Workers’ Congress yesterday, in Caracas.
Firstly, the president formalized the launching of the Workers’ Bank; aimed at providing financial services and entrepreneurial financing to working class households, women, and the commune movement.
The president also used the enabling law to pass three laws without Assembly approval- including a reform of the Law of Public Administration, meant to better combat in-office corruption.
Additionally, the Law of Simplification of Administrative Applications was introduced to diminish bureaucracy and inefficiency, and the Law of Sectorial Vice Presidents assigns new authorities to address the “Five Revolutions;” economy, agriculture, politics, social development, and energy.
Maduro further pledged to redouble security measures to prevent corruption and “sabotage” in the energy sector, and warned of a widespread “workers’ audit” in 2015 to monitor productivity in state-owned enterprises.
In the past, pro-government workers of the state-owned electrical company Corpoelec have complained of senior managers pocketing public funds and manipulating blackouts during electoral season to damage the government’s image.
Congress spokesperson Oswaldo Vera noted that trends in the CBST meetings highlighted a more self-sustainable industrial model. “We understand with clarity that the roll of the working class is… to put ourselves in the front lines against the economic war and guarantee production for all Venezuelans,” he said.
Other measures announced yesterday include an anti-speculation brigade to protect workers’ from salary devaluation, and a System for Occupied, Recovered, and Nationalized Companies such as the abandoned Clorox factory seized by laid-off workers in September.
Commerce minister Dante Rivas was also sworn in as the National Authority Against Bureaucracy, a new position.
The most controversial subject addressed was the need for a decrease in the subsidy of gasoline in order to reduce vast government expenses, which would lead to an increase in prices.
Gasoline in Venezuela has been sold at the fixed price of 0.09 bolivars per liter ($0.01 at the official exchange rate of 6.3) since 1997, despite numerous currency devaluations and even a refurbished monetary system since that time. In today’s market, the small change needed to fill up a four-door sedan is equivalent to the cost of some hard candy at a checkout counter, and considerably less than the price of a small bottle of water.
Pro-government critics have said the measure may lead to a further leap in inflation which, despite the wide buffer protecting working class Venezuelans, may drive many middle-class Venezuelans into the arms of the opposition.
However, Maduro affirmed that all measures announced yesterday were the product of consultation with the CBST, other workers’ movement, and community council and grassroots forums held over the past year. Positive response in social media supports the likelihood that the measure is widely considered a necessity, regardless of critics’ concerns.
The details of the price increase have not yet been revealed.