Caracas , January 10, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— The Venezuelan government announced Monday that $5 billion dollars will be available for the new participatory democratic institutions the Communal Councils in 2007. The Intergovernmental Fund for Decentralisation (Fides) will be responsible for distributing the money.
The additional money means the funds available to the Communal Councils will more than triple the $1.5 billion of 2006. Part of the increase can be accounted for due to the expected increase in the number of Communal Councils in Venezuela.
At the end of last year there were a reported 13,000 across the country. This is expected to increase to 21,000 by the end of this year.
The Communal Councils came into being in April 2006 with the passing of the Communal Council Law by the National Assembly. They are intended to provide a participatory democratic body for communities to manage and develop themselves. Prior to the law being introduced there were separate projects such as the Social Missions and the Urban Land Committees.
The new institution is designed to pull these distinct programmes together so a strategic view can be taken of what the community needs as a whole. The funds will be for education, construction, transport, health, agriculture and housing related projects.
According to the president of Fides Richard Canán how much money is made available to specific Communal Councils will depend in large part on how it performs in managing and planning the resources it obtains, “If the projects are cross community managed they will be given more and if the community uses the funds well there will also be more money for new projects”, he said.
The idea is that there is a community of around 200 – 400 families for each Communal Council and all members of each community over the age of 15 can participate in the process and put forward ideas for development.
In a speech on Monday Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez suggested that as the Communal Councils spread they will also deepen and will become the new Venezuelan state taking over what he described as the old “bourgeois state”.
Increased International Reserve Funds Available for Development Projects
As the international reserves continue growing at the Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV) an additional $7 billion will be designated to the Venezuelan National Development Fund (Fonden), President Hugo Chávez said last week.
The government requires that the BCV achieves and ‘optimum’ level of reserves each year which it must accomplish along side setting interests and reaching inflation targets. Any surplus is transferred to Fonden, which uses it for industrial development. The monies can only be spent on foreign purchases or the paying off of Venezuela’s external debt.
According to President Chavez in an announcement earlier this week the BCV is to be brought under the direct control of the government.