The president of Venezuela’s National Institute of Statistics (INE), Elías Eljuri, said Tuesday that, by lowering poverty, Venezuela has become the country in Latin America with the most equitable distribution of wealth.
In an interview on Unión Radio, Eljuri emphasized the current government’s commitment to fighting hunger, poverty, and inequality.
“Venezuela has an inequality rate of 0.39, when almost all of the rest of the countries are above 0.45; Brazil and Colombia are at 0.56, Chile is at 0.52, that means there are countries even with the same rate of extreme poverty as Venezuela, but where inequality is much larger,” he said, citing the Gini coefficient which measures inequality on a scale from 0 to 1.
Eljuri indicated that lowered poverty is a product of government policies in recent years that have increased the level of social investment.
“More than $500 billion has gone to the social sector,” he said.
That social investment, he noted, was sustained even as Venezuela’s Gross Domestic Product growth rate fell in 2009 and 2010 to 3.5% and 1.2% respectively.
The social sector includes education, and schools have been improved dramatically.
“Before there were 350,000 children that received free meals in schools and now there are 4.1 million children receiving two meals and a snack each day. They’re also distributing “Canaimita” laptop computers to continue a program in public elementary schools that is offering important training to our young people and allowing them to work at a different level,” he said.
In the second half of 2012, extreme poverty fell to just 6.5% of all households, and for 2013-2019, the goal is to reduce that rate to 3-4%.
Regarding structural poverty, which is calculated based on five sets of unsatisfied basic needs regarding housing, education, and services, Eljuri said that the rate has fallen from 11.36% in 2001 to 6.97% in 2011.
One government program that is helping reduce poverty is the Great Housing Mission, which provided homes to 200,080 needy families throughout Venezuela in 2012 alone. Another 300,000 homes are projected to be built and given out in 2013.
YVKE Mundial/ Press- Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S./ January 29, 2013