National Institute of Statistics (INE) president Elias Eljuri estimates that poverty in Venezuela, as measured by income, decreased this year.

Eljuri thinks it strange that the Andres Bello Catholic University’s (UCAB) Research Institute reported that poverty had increased, and was at 74.2%. “In the first place, UCAB (says that it) bases its calculations on INE statistics. But, the figures cited in their report seem strange to us. They are based on INE household surveys.”

Eljuri added that this year’s reduction in poverty is logical, because the economy grew in the beginning of 2004 by more than 10%. This brings with it increased employment and improvement in living conditions for Venezuelans.

In 1997, the poverty rate was 55.6%, based on income, and extreme poverty was calculated at 25.5%. These figures dropped in 1999 and 2000.

An INE report given to Venpres by Eljuri titled “Indicators of Living Conditions” reveals the following trend: Based on statistics collected in the second half of each year, the poverty rate went from 48.1% in 1997, to 43.9% in 1998, to 42% in 1999, to 40.4% in 2000, to 39% in 2001. The extreme poverty rate fell to 14% in 2001.

After the April 2002 coup, the poverty rate grew slightly to 41.5%, but the effects of the coup were felt more severely by the end of the year during the petroleum strike, when poverty surged to 48.6%. The strike that took place during the first trimester of 2003 generated losses of more than US $10 billion, and that had a drastic effect on employment. Unemployment reached 20.7% in February of 2003, and this undoubtedly resulted in the peak poverty level, measured at 54%. Extreme poverty reached 25.1%.

The UCAB figures are higher than INE figures by 20% for general poverty, and 15% for extreme poverty. “The percentages that they are giving are much higher than those based on our work, conducted in a totally scientific manner. They don’t explain the values that they’re giving, because if they were based on our statistics, they would reflect what I’m telling you,” concluded Eljuri.

By: Venezuelanalysis.com