From teleSUR English, with additional reporting by Z.C. Dutka for venezuelanalysis.com.
The level of extreme poverty in Venezuela dropped to a record low of 5.4 percent in 2015, Social Development Minister Hector Rodriguez said Monday.
The index dropped from 5.5 percent last year, the official said, falling despite an economic slowdown caused by economic sabotage and falling oil prices.
This means that more than 36,300 people escaped critical levels of poverty in 2014.
The figures are the latest milestone in poverty reduction in Venezuela, following the prioritizing of social investment. When former President Hugo Chavez came to power in 1998, 21 percent of homes were registered as experiencing extreme poverty and earlier that decade as economic crisis hit Venezuela extreme poverty topped 42 percent.
The data is even more remarkable in the face of the South American nation’s current crisis. Scarcity, soaring inflation and tumbling oil prices merged in 2014, reducing Venezuelan purchasing power significantly. However, as the country’s middle class complains of less access to consumer goods, it’s clear that the most vulnerable sector of Venezuelan society continues to be protected and uplifted by social programs.
The 2015 budget, unveiled in October of last year, indicated a 34 percent proportionate increase in funds for social programs, with emphasis on pensions, healthcare, and community colleges.
Additionally, the government’s Great Housing Mission delivered over 100,000 freshly constructed homes to at-risk families in 2014 alone. The mission has provided houses for over half a million families since its launch in 2011.
At the time, the vice-president of the National Assembly’s financial commission, Jesus Faria, said the budget goals were to continue to expand the “buffer” that protects popular sectors from being negatively affected by economic recession.
The objective of the socialist government’s policy is to reduce the extreme poverty index to zero in 2019.