Bogota, November 1, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC) approved a law to create a new agricultural consortium Tuesday in a bid to jump-start national production.
The law was presented to the assembly by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in early September as part of a string of economic proposals aimed at overcoming the country’s economic crisis.
ANC President Delcy Rodriguez described the new legislation as “fundamental to combatting and defeating the economic war and building a new productive model”.
According to the legislation, the new public conglomerate will group together all the major public and private agricultural enterprises in order to coordinate output “necessary for the productive stability of the country”.
Venezuela was hit by a severe economic crisis in 2014 on the back of a global slump in the price of oil and is yet to recover. Oil accounts for well over 90 percent of Venezuela’s foreign currency earnings and the decrease in governmental income has led to a drastic reduction in state-imported goods and shortages of certain products. Some producers and vendors have also been found guilty of hoarding products in order to evade government price controls and artificially inflate prices.
The ANC hopes that the new body will be able to tackle the worst effects of the economic crisis by overhauling the country’s agricultural production system and orientating it towards self-sufficiency.
Venezuela’s national production has historically lagged due to the competitiveness of the oil industry, resulting in an over-reliance on imports to meet national consumption.
According to Rodriguez, the consortium aims to “achieve the coordination of productive efforts amongst the twenty principle crops of the country”.
The body will also be responsible for creating alliances between grassroots organisations and private and public sector companies in order to replace imported products and bring the issue of national production under the jurisdiction of one body.
“This isn’t an elitist, neoliberal corporation that will compete with Nestle, Pepsi Cola, Coca-Cola and Polar… Through this institutional structure, this torpedo, this missile that Nicolas Maduro has thought up and established, we are going to break those barriers with all the productive actors of the country,” said Productive Land and Agriculture Minister Wilmar Castro Soteldo.
Since the ruling United Socialist Party’s surprise win in October 15 regional elections — in which it secured eighteen out of Venezuela’s twenty-three state governorships — social movements have been pressurizing the government to take decisive economic action in the face of soaring inflation.
Some of the other economic measures put forward by Maduro include price-controls on fifty different products, regulations on currency exchange houses, the promotion of foreign-capital investment, the development of the Orinoco Mining Belt, and increased taxes on large fortunes — though the ANC has yet to approve laws on the basis of these proposals.
Following the elections, Maduro approved extra financial resources for state governorships, some of which is earmarked for promoting local agriculture.
ANC delegates were elected to the body on July 31 with a mandate to address the country’s economic crisis as well as redraft the 1999 constitution.