Venezuela’s New Social Missions Aimed at Reducing Poverty and Unemployment

The “great social missions” created over the last six months could contribute to reducing the national rate of extreme poverty from 7 to 3.5 percent in the medium term.


Once the Venezuelan government achieves its goal of bringing benefits to all citizens through social programs like “Mission Greater Love” and “Mission Sons of Venezuela” the extreme poverty rate could be reduced by half, said the president of the National Institute of Statistics (INE), Elías Eljuri, on Monday.

Eljuri said that “the goal is viable” considering the new pension benefits that will be allocated to elderly citizens, and economic aid for low-income mothers. Additionally, he recalled that in 1998, the year the Chavez administration was elected to power, there were 5.4 million people living in conditions of extreme poverty.

In a televised interview, Eljuri explained that extreme poverty is calculated based on per capita family incomes. “If incomes are lower than the per capita price of the basic food basket, then we’re talking about extreme poverty,” he said.

The “Knowledge and Work Mission”, launched this week, will directly help to reduce poverty by offering vocational training and jobs, paving the way to increased family incomes, he said.

Eluji also stated that structural extreme poverty in Venezuela, which is at 6.8 percent, could be reduced by two points in two to three years, depending on how intensely these social programs are implemented. This particular classification of poverty is based on two main issues: access to housing and education for children between 7 to 14 years of age.

 The “Great Housing Mission” will help fight overcrowding, according to the INE president.

Fighting Unemployment

Commerce Minister Edmee Betancourt highlighted on Monday that the Knowledge and Work Mission is part of the government’s efforts to reducing unemployment to a rate of just 3 percent by 2018.

According to the INE, in late December 2011, the unemployment rate was at 6.5 percent (as a point of comparison, it was more than twice that amount – 14.5 percent – in late 1999).

Minister Betancourt said the there are currently 885,149 unemployed people, compared to the 12.7 million people in formal employment.

“We have been working hard. We have almost stabilized it [unemployment]. This first aspect of the mission is very important to us,” she said. This new social program has four aspects: registration, the creation of a new legal framework, job training, and the development of a new productive model.

Betancourt said that it is “not a casual mission,” as  it is included in the government’s planning for the labor sector from 2012 to 2018.

The economically active population increases by about 300,000 people per year, which makes it necessary to create about 420,000 new jobs annually to satisfy demand and reduce the number of unemployed by about 100,000 people annually, the minister explained.

These policies could help to lower unemployment to 3 percent by 2018.  According to official figures, the Knowledge and Work Mission will create over 2.8 million new jobs between 2012 and 2019.

The Bolivarian Missions are social programs created in 2003 to speed up the government actions in priority areas for the neediest populations.

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