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Venezuela on Track to Meet UN Millennium Goals

Mérida, October 18, 2007 ( Thanks to the implementation of socially-oriented policies, Venezuela is one of the countries most likely to reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for 2015, government officials announced yesterday. They also pointed to a reduction in unemployment and strong economic growth projected for 2007 as indicators of the success of government policies.

Venezuelan Minister of Education Adán Chavez explained that in terms of human development, which includes health, education, and per capita income, Venezuela has seen significant progress since the year 2001. In terms of reducing poverty, Chavez assured that Venezuela would meet the Millennium Goals before the year 2015.

"All the indicators that we work with show that we are improving and we can say without a doubt that we are going to meet the goals," he said.

The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a blueprint of eight development goals agreed on by the 192 United Nations member states to achieve by the year 2015. The goals focus on eradicating poverty and providing universal primary education and health care to all people, as well as ensuring environmental sustainability.

Adán Chavez emphasized the gains that have been made in Venezuela with respect to these goals, noting the raises in wages that have put Venezuela's minimum wage among the highest in Latin America, as well as the high number of Venezuelans that have been included in the national education system and literacy programs.

"We are sure that by 2015 we are going to meet these goals. I would even go so far as to say, responsibly, that we will surpass some of these indicators," said Chavez, but he declined to say in which areas the goals would be surpassed.

Adán Chavez insisted that socialism was the key to improving conditions and asserted that it would be impossible to reach the goals with capitalism.

"We think that, respecting the position of other countries, within capitalism it is impossible to meet the millennium goals on an international level," he said.

The minister also pointed to a significant decrease in the inflation rate and a decrease in unemployment for the month of September to 8.3 percent. According to the National Institute of Statistics, unemployment is down from 9.5 percent in September of 2006, meaning an increase of nearly 140,000 people employed in the formal sector over the last year.

Minister of Planning and Development Jorge Giordani stated that the unemployment rate could be as low as 7 percent by the end of the year.

"It is possible this year, here in the last months of the year, that unemployment could even go down below 7 percent," he said.

Giordani emphasized the economic growth that Venezuela is experiencing, assuring that no other country in the world is experiencing an equal level of growth. "Not even China," he said.

The development minister gave some figures for the year 2007, predicting that the country's GDP would be around US$ 200 billion by the end of the year, with a growth rate of 6 percent for 2007. According to Giordani, this puts Venezuela's GDP in fourth place in Latin America.

He also commented on the millennium goals, explaining that the goal for 2015 was to reduce hunger and extreme poverty by half. Giordani stated that Venezuela had already reached the goal.

"If the goal for 2015 is to reduce it by half, at this moment we are at 7.8 percent, down from 21 percent," he said. "With respect to the millennium goals, Venezuela has already met them. We don't have to wait until 2015. We are already surpassing the goal 8 years early."

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also released numbers this week for 2007 and 2008, placing Venezuela as the country with the highest growth in Latin America. The IMF put the GDP growth rate for Venezuela this year at 8 percent, above Argentina (7.5 percent), Peru (7 percent), Colombia (6.6 percent), Chile (5.9 percent), Brazil (4.4 percent), and Mexico (2.9 percent).

The IMF expects Venezuela to stay at the top of the region for 2008 as well, but predicts a general slowdown in the region overall, and put Venezuela at 6 percent growth in 2008. Although the IMF predicts oil prices to remain stable for the next three years, they warned that the financial turbulences in the credit market in the United States could affect growth in the region.

Published on Oct 18th 2007 at 8.29pm