The private sector has a long history of involvement in Venezuelan politics, some of it quite controversial. For this reason, the peak organization representing the private sector, Fedecámaras, was very careful about maintaining an appropriate profile during this year’s presidential election process.
The president of the organization held a press conference before the election calling upon the Venezuelan people to vote in this very important election. After the election, in which Hugo Chávez was re-elected for a fourth term despite a record showing by the opposition, the Fedecámaras president hailed the peacefulness of the process and asked for the country to seek a path in which private initiative and the state could cooperate in stimulating the economy and creating jobs.
Looking well beyond the election outcome, in August, Fedecámaras introduced “Progress and Well-Being,” a program that they had planned to implement regardless of the election outcome. The program’s goal is to develop a path through which Venezuela can depart from a state-oriented approach to development and replace it with a shared vision for a future that will generate a million jobs in three years and triple private investment in the country.
Progress and Well-Being has the following objectives, designed to develop a positive and constructive dialogue to achieve those goals:
- Lower the cost of living in Venezuela
- Safeguard personal ownership
- Stabilize the prices, a requirement for economic development planning
- Generate productive employment that is well paying and stable
- Improve income for families
- Grow the number of formal jobs in the country
- Assure quality employment
- Promote national production levels
- Improve the supply and quality of Venezuelan products
- Contribute to the generation of wealth in the country
- Increase and diversify the fiscal resources available to the State
- Develop competitiveness and innovation
Fedecámaras does not expect to be able to implement this program on its own, so a key component of the initiative is to reach out and form alliances with other civil society groups to achieve these objectives. Education, of course, is a centerpiece for the program, so they are pursuing alliances with universities and academies as well as student associations. Also envisioned are programs with the media and groups working with the informal sector.
This is an ambitious program for Fedecámaras to launch but one that is sorely needed by the country not only to provide economic growth but to provide the consensus within Venezuelan society on how to achieve democracy that delivers in the country.