New Venezuelan Welfare Scheme to Benefit 4 Million Homes: Maduro

Maduro said millions of Venezuelan families will be eligible for a new monthly welfare bonus from his government.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
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Maduro has vowed to continue expanding social programs in 2018
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has vowed to continue expanding social programs in 2018. (@PresidencialVen)

Puebla, Mexico, January 17, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro unveiled Monday a new social welfare program aimed at aiding families.

Under the plan, Venezuelan families will be eligible to receive monthly payments, intended to cover basic necessities such as groceries.

“We will protect families monthly,” said Maduro, who explained the payments will vary between BsF320,000 and BsF1,680.000. The lowest figure is equal to around US$1.65 on Venezuela’s currency black market, or US$28.30 at the controlled DICOM exchange tier. The highest payments are worth around US$8.60 at the black market rate, or US$148 through DICOM.

The sliding scale of payments are based on the size of the household. According to Maduro, homes with two people will be eligible for the lowest payments of BsF320,000, while a family of three can receive 490,000. After that, each additional family member increases the payout by around BsF170,000.

An additional bonus is also available for pregnant women and Venezuelans living with disabilities. In both cases, the government will offer a monthly bonus of BsF700,000.

Maduro said the program is expected to eventually benefit as many as 4 million households.

“We already have a solid base,” he said, “The starting point is 1.5 million homes.”

State of the union address

Maduro announced the new welfare scheme during his Memoria y Cuenta, an annual presidential speech similar to a state of the union address. During the speech, Maduro argued his government continued to expand social programs throughout 2017, including housing and food distribution. He said his government had bolstered the country’s minimum salary by almost three quarters, and improved the CLAP food program, which distributes basic food goods door-to-door. The program has been praised by Maduro supporters for delivering food to communities hit by scarcity, though the opposition has argued the initiative is inconsistent and politically biased.

“[2018] was the year of the CLAP – the local food committees,” Maduro said.

The president continued by stating his administration is on track to meet its objective of building 2 million public housing units by this year. According to Maduro, 1.9 million low-cost homes have already been constructed and turned over to mostly poor Venezuelan families for little to no cost.

"I will have the honour of handing over the 2 millionth home and hitting the deadline set by [former president Hugo Chavez],” Maduro said.

He vowed to continue expanding social programs in 2018.

"We have lived through a revolutionary cycle ... the longest epoch in the last 500 years," he said.

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