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Venezuela's Inefficient housing policy

Mayela Armas | El Universal

23.12.04 | Only 58 percent of planned dwellings have been delivered in six years. Venezuelan President said in July this year that the failure in plans was due to a lack of funding. In six years, the mess of enforcement authorities, contractors failures and delays in funding have affected the plans. From 1999 to 2004, the government allotted 3.3 trillion bolivars ($1,7 billion) for housing, but only 1.9 trillion bolivars ($992 million), or 57 percent, were disbursed.

"Revolution plans started very well in 2000 with the building of decent dwellings, instead of tiny matchboxes, but in 2001, these plans were curbed for lack of funding ¿ now there will be a housing revolution". President Hugo Chávez 23/07/04.

Building huge cities, handing over decent dwellings and boosting the construction sector are common phrases of presidential speeches in terms of housing. But there is a widening gap between speeches and facts.

For six years, the housing policy has proved to be ineffective. The houses built do not fulfill the requirements. The figures of the National Housing Council (Conavi), the Urban Development Fund (Fondur), and the Venezuelan Chamber of Construction (CVC) show that from 1999 to 2004, a total of 159,000 dwellings were planned, but only 91,000 houses, or 58 percent, have been built.

According to government figures, there is a need to build 110,000 dwellings annually. However, in a six-year term, less than that has been delivered. Meanwhile, crisis prevails with a deficit of 1.5 million houses.

Such lag in the implementation of programs is partly due to inconveniences concerning funding, effective use of such funding, the mess of enforcement authorities due to overlapping duties and failures with contractors.

In a report submitted to the Parliament, Conavi stated that the "delay in funding affected the works in two ways: meeting deadlines and reduced goals due to increasing costs. The number of houses needed shows that funding is not enough."

From 1999 to 2004, the amount of 3.3 trillion bolivars ($1.7 billion) was budgeted through the public sector contributions fund. A total of 1.9 trillion bolivars ($992 million), or 57 percent, was allotted. Funding was not enough, as yearly investment should have exceeded 3 trillion bolivars ($1.5 billion).

As a matter of fact, during this period, 800 billion bolivars ($417 million) were allotted, but the goals were not met and construction was completed in 2001. Just from 2001, troubles went worse, and the plans until 2003 were half completed.

Delivery

Based on government announcements, the construction goal from 1999 to 2000 was of 90,000 dwellings in average, but only 35,000 houses were built. While almost all funding was provided, construction was deferred and a part of it was left for 2001.

In 2001, a new goal of 81,000 dwellings was set. However, at the end only 22,800 houses, including past and new programs, were built. Nor was the new schedule completed. Therefore, no new goals were announced and there was an attempt at completing the construction pending.

Translated by Conchita Delgado



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