On December 26, in the Extraordinary Official Gazette No. 6.497, a presidential decree extended tax exemptions for the importing bourgeoisie for six more months until June 30, 2020.
With this neoliberal economic measure, the Maduro government continues to benefit the interests of the traditional and emerging fractions of the ruling classes as part of its anti-worker and anti-popular policies.
Tax exemption is a huge stimulus to companies that import processed consumer goods. These are in high demand in Venezuela's increasingly unequal society.
For this reason, the president allowed traditional and emerging businesses to set up a series of shops called bodegones during 2019 to sell imported products. These products are unaffordable for Venezuela’s working class and mostly come from the major US retail chains like Walmart and Costco.
The extension of tax privileges for the importing bourgeoisie only ratifies the "bodegon model" as an unequal and elitist form of commercial distribution of goods in the country. In 2020, we will continue to be immersed in the Chavista capitalism typical of the Venezuelan bodegon, which excludes the vast majority of the Venezuelan population from the consumption of basic goods.
In the face of labour protests in 2018 and 2019, with [partial] strikes in health and education, we have heard government spokesmen arguing that the so-called economic war prevents wage increases in line with the basic staple prices for state employees, as article 91 of the Constitution stipulates. But Maduro's government is now failing to collect billions of dollars from taxes, which could be earmarked for wage increases for state workers.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Venezuelanalysis editorial staff.
Translation by Paul Dobson for Venezuelanalysis.