San Francisco, August 26th 2011 (Venezuelanalaysis.com) – On Thursday Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the creation of the country’s National Public Works Company, a new government institution aimed at managing and maintaining all publicly-owned construction equipment. Construction brigades, organized by communal councils and other community-based entities, are to operate and maintain the over 6,000 construction equipment that now belongs to the newly-created public works company.
Speaking live on national television and radio yesterday, Chavez announced the birth of the new public institution and explained that it will help carry out, supervise, and control the thousands of housing development projects currently underway in Venezuela as part of the government’s “Grand Mission Housing Venezuela.”
Building affordable homes has become a top priority for the Venezuelan government since torrential rains last year left thousands of people homeless. The new mass housing “mission” aims to build some 2 million homes in the next seven years.
According to Minister of Housing and Habitat, Ricardo Molina, some 360,000 homes are currently being constructed nationwide.
In total, some 4,243 housing projects are underway in the country and an additional 3,685 projects are to begin next year. These figures include public, private, and mixed (public-private) housing construction efforts.
The government’s goal is to complete and hand over to families a total 319,820 homes by the end of 2012.
“Let’s not waste another second,” said Chavez yesterday, “let’s sign this decree and create the National Public Works Company…one more element in the national strategic design, the Simon Bolivar National Project which is found in our Constitution.”
The president went on to explain that the new public entity is set to participate in all public works efforts and is expected to play a role in the production, importation, and distribution of construction equipment as well.
To begin operations, Chavez issued the company 100 million bolivars ($US 23 million).
Publicly-Owned and Operated Construction Equipment
As reported by Correo del Orinoco, the Venezuelan government recently purchased 6,025 pieces of construction equipment from China, all of which are to be owned and operated by the new public works entity.
The equipment purchased includes bulldozers, graders, pneumatic compacters, and excavating equipment, among other heavy machinery used in housing and infrastructure construction.
While the exact amount spent on the equipment has yet to be made public, the Chinese government recently made an historic loan of US$ 20 billion dollars to support Venezuela’s efforts at improving infrastructure, agriculture, energy, oil, steel, and gas projects in the country.
“This is a huge injection of resources, of constant capital at the service of labor, and it strengthens the country in terms of national power, power of the state and power of the people,” said Chavez on Thursday.
According to Venezuela’s Minister of Housing and Habitat, Ricardo Molina, the renting of construction equipment from private owners “was limiting” government efforts to advance public works efforts.
“To rent one of these machines one must pay the private sector anywhere between 3 and 5 thousand bolivars ($US 700 to 1,150) per day, which amounts to a huge expense that we can now save,” explained Molina.
The housing minister also affirmed that “public ownership” of the over 6,000 pieces of construction equipment purchased from China allows the Venezuela government and people to “plan and decide where to send the machines, control their maintenance as well as performance and ensure the greatest possible lifespan” for each machine.
Molina said the new institution “is a key piece of the puzzle” in the government’s attempt to meet people’s housing needs.
Molina also explained the people’s power organizations, including communal councils, popular housing committees, and workers’ councils are currently setting up “construction brigades” that will receive technical training for the use and maintenance of specific machinery.
People’s power organizations have begun forming “state- and region-based units that can go directly to construction sites, help with operating and permanent maintenance of machinery,” explained Molina.
In a symbolic showing of the newly-purchased equipment, 210 pieces were displayed along the Paseo de los Proceres in Caracas yesterday. Some 600 trained “brigade members” were on hand to accompany the construction equipment, including graduates of the Ribas Mission, communal councils, and workers from the state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).