Self-employed and informal sector workers in Venezuela are to be included in the nation’s social security system, following an announcement by President Hugo Chavez last Saturday.
The Law of Social Security will be changed to allow informally employed workers to register with the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security (IVSS) and make social security payments.
“This good news means that taxi drivers, street sellers, fishermen, farmers, lawyers, dentists, all informal and self-employed workers, can now claim social security and have a pension in the future,” commented Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua of the measure.
The announcement comes as the Venezuelan government prepares to approve the new Labour Law by 1 May, which among other measures is expected to establish a new social security fund supported by state oil company PDVSA.
The informal sector makes up 41% of Venezuela’s employment market, down from 55% when Chavez entered office, according to Venezuela’s National Institute of Statistics.
Another government initiative aimed at including this sector in the social security system is the Mission Greater/Older Love program, which grants pensions to senior citizens not previously covered by social security.
Vice President for the Social Area, Yadira Córdova, announced last Wednesday that 271,400 senior citizens have benefited from the program since its launch in December of last year.
The Venezuelan president’s announcement came during a meeting with Venezuelan foreign minister Nicolas Maduro in Havana last Saturday, where the Chavez has been undergoing radiation therapy treatment for cancer.
In recent days, various corporate media organisations such as The Associated Press and Fox News began a wave of speculation around Chavez’s health after he did not make a television appearance while undergoing treatment last week.
On Sunday Chavez met with Maduro and science and technology minister Jorge Arreaza, where the Venezuelan president approved scientific projects as part of the development of a productive economy, within the framework of the government’s Knowledge and Work training and employment program.