Venezuela: New budget approved by street assemblies, right-wing bypassed

Maduro announced his proposal for the country’s federal budget in front of a large crowd of supporters in Caracas on October 14.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced his proposal for the country’s federal budget for 2017 on October 14 — indicating that a staggering 73.6% would be dedicated toward social investment. It comes in a context of an economic crisis, including shortages of some goods.

In the days leading up to the announcement, the governing Untied Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) held street assemblies with thousands of Venezuelans to discuss and debate the proposed budget.

“In a democracy like ours, the budget is debated by the people,” Maduro said on October 12.

In front of a large crowd of supporters in Caracas on October 14, Maduro said 83% of the budget will come from tax revenues and 11.9% will be financed from special contributions for socialist enterprises.

The socialist president said that only 17% of the budget would come from oil, which has long contributed a large bulk of Venezuelan revenue. Government planning calculated the figure with a barrel of oil priced at US$30.

Maduro presented the budget directly to the Supreme Court for approval. In doing so, the president bypassed interference from the country's aggressive right-wing opposition that controls the National Assembly.

Last December, the right-wing Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) won a two-thirds majority in National Assembly elections. However, the Supreme Court has declared all acts of the National Assembly invalid after the body swore-in three legislators whose election victories had been suspended over irregularities.

The Court ruled the politicians could not be sworn in, but the National Assembly simply ignored the decision. Thus, the Assembly’s actions were ruled unconstitutional and its activities were nulled by the judicial branch.

Given the legal situation, the Supreme Court ruled that the government could present the budget directly to the Court. The National Assembly is therefore unable to negate the budget because of its contempt for Supreme Court decisions.

Despite widespread economic problems facing the country, Maduro said he is “loyal to a dream, a people and a country, and I will remain loyal to the last breath”.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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