In July 2011, in response to a polemical document issued by a number of critics of the Morales government, Vice-president Alvaro García Linera published a lengthy response (‘El ‘Oenegismo’, enfermedad infantil del derechismo’) in which – amongst other things – he drew attention to the government’s achievements in the social arena. Here we simply seek to disseminate some of the official data on which García Linera based his case.
Using data from the Unidad de Análisis de Políticas Sociales y Económicas (UDAPE – the government think tank), gleaned from the Household Surveys conducted by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE), we can see that:
So it can be seen that although poverty levels were on a downward track (at least in percentage terms of a still fast-growing population) before the MAS government took office at the beginning of 2006, the process has been accelerated significantly since then.
Again, citing figures from the National Household surveys produced by INE, García Linera pointed to a notable decrease in levels of inequality in Bolivia in recent years:
It should of course be remembered that monetary income for rural populations, especially subsistence farmers, is not necessarily an accurate guide to poverty.
In explaining the reasons behind this improvement in the conditions of social deprivation, García Linera pointed to the role of the state in increasing government revenues (primarily through increasing taxes payable by gas companies), and how this facilitated both social welfare programmes (such as the Renta Dignidad, the Bono Juancito Pinto and the Bono Juana Azurduy) and increased public investment, particularly through building and upgrading infrastructure at the local level.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently brought out information on poverty in Bolivia which echoes some of these findings. Commenting on data which indicates that 1.1 million Bolivians were lifted out of extreme poverty between 2007 and 2009, Gabriel Lopetegui, the head of the IMF mission in La Paz, suggested that this was due in large part to the cash transfer programmes implemented by the government.
From Bolivia Information Forum
Some updates on poverty and inequality in Bolivia
Bolivia Information Forum