Mérida, 20th November 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has approved five laws addressing corruption and state security on the last day of the enabling period of limited lawmaking powers granted to him by the National Assembly.
Following the promulgation of 28 laws on Tuesday, yesterday the Venezuelan head of state passed 5 laws focused on reducing corruption and improving the state’s capacity to fight crime and defend national security.
The first piece of legislation approved was a beefed-up Law Against Corruption, which included punishments for international or transnational bribery.
The law also created a National Anti-Corruption Body, which will be made up of specialist police officials and lawyers and will report directly to the presidency. Maduro said he was considering who to appoint to the organisation, and called on officials and activists to “create a more transparent, more humane society,” adding, “with corruption, socialism isn’t possible”.
Meanwhile, the new Law of Public Contracts seeks to simplify the administrative procedures of this process and to introduce improved oversight of the use of public funds. It also sets out how the state can grant resources and award contracts to grassroots organisations such as community councils and communes.
The final three laws addressed national and citizen security, the first of which was the National Security Law. This sets out the need for collective planning across public powers, organised communities and entities of communal governance in the design of policies to combat crime and internal and external threats to national security.
To this end, the law creates a new governmental body, the People’s System for the Protection of Peace, to be a conduit for such planning. It will be directed by the Minister of Interior Relations (Home Office) and will have four sub-bodies named “peace”, “people”, “protection” and “operational investigation”.
For example, the organisation will seek to combat what Maduro called the “paramilitary threat that has appeared as the fault of the rightwing in our country”, in reference to the assassination of pro-government parliamentarian Robert Serra in October and the deaths caused by militant opposition street barricades earlier this year.
Further, the Law of the Police Revolution was approved to compliment a presidential committee of the same name, and will act as a legal instrument to “revise, rectify, strengthen and restructure” the country’s police forces. Far reaching police reform is expected to be ready for implementation by early next year.
Finally, Maduro approved the reformed Law of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) in order to consolidate the army as a “vital column of the stability and independence of the homeland and the civic military union”.
Changes include greater study of the FANB’s history and a re-defining of the Defence Ministry’s administrative and institutional role in relation to state policies.
The five laws were the last to be approved under President Maduro’s Enabling Law, which was granted to him for one year by the National Assembly and allowed the president to pass laws without parliamentary approval in designated areas.
The powers were originally requested in order for the executive to fight corruption and resolve economic problems associated with what officials call an “economic war”. Economic problems of shortages and high inflation, in addition to high crime, frequently rate at the top of citizen concerns in opinion polls.
A total of 56 laws were passed under the Enabling Law, the great majority toward the end of the period.