VENAMCHAM: TO THE PUBLIC OPINION, MARCH 22, 2020

The Venezuelan-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Venamcham, in view of the serious situation our country is going through in the midst of the crisis caused by the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, wishes to highlight the importance, in this most complex time, that both, the public and private sectors, make common cause in the fight against this challenge.

We ratify the commitment of our affiliates to contribute to the solution of this crisis, as has always been the case in any circumstance, and we add our voice to that of many national chambers and unions in highlighting the urgent need for the implementation of economic relief measures by the Executive Branch, in order to help companies, mitigate the impact of the crisis if they are to remain viable in order to be a factor in the revival of employment and economic activity.

On March 20th, the United Nations Organization stated that «an immediate human rights response to COVID-19 and the looming global recession is urgent.» This immediate response to the crisis that is overwhelming many countries and has the potential to do the same in Venezuela, can only be achieved through joint and articulated work between the public and private sectors.

There are already many examples at the international level of how the public sector is working hand in hand with the private sector in order to minimize the social and economic impacts of this serious public health problem. Many governments are taking direct and decisive steps to support the private sector. Most have expressed:

  • That they recognize the fragility of citizens, companies, organizations and society in general, and the instability of the health and productive systems, in view of the magnitude of the crisis;
  • That they also recognize the importance of keeping companies operational, viable and relatively strengthened so that they are not lost to the crisis and may serve as the driving force of the economy once the pandemic is over; and,
  • That they are aware of the need for private companies to continue providing employment, generating income, and providing goods and services for the well-being of the population.

As a chamber established in 1950 and with 70 years in our country, we want to emphasize that our more than 800 affiliated companies, both national and multinational, large and small, are not only keenly aware of the situation the country is going through but also actively engaged in helping address this crisis in the communities where they operate.

Our affiliates have strictly followed the instructions emanated from the government, in the sense of closing their operations, with the exception of those sectors that have been called to collaborate with the emergency, providing guidance to their collaborators as to how to defend themselves against the virus, promoting telework and seeking mechanisms that support the development of alternatives to alleviate the country’s dire economic and social situation.

In recent hours, various Chambers and Associations have proposed a set of actions to be taken immediately to help overcome this situation.

We join our voices in requesting that, among other actions:

  • All means be made available so that the supply of food, medicines and medical supplies can promptly reach the entire population;
  • The provision of public services and fuel supply are guaranteed at the national level for the orderly and through distribution of these supplies;
  • Access for the personnel of the companies that have been specifically called to support in this crisis is facilitated, especially that of the health and food sectors;
  • Emergency financial measures are implemented in order to allow companies meet their commitments. This could be immediately achieved by relaxing the legal banking reserve restrictions currently in place, so companies can have access to new financing in order to continue being able to pay workers and suppliers, and sustain operations; and,
  • Tax breaks be granted in the form of a suspension of the required daily advances of income and value added taxes, in addition to the postponement of newly approved legislative or administrative regulations, in order to free up resources to be invested in the production and distribution of goods and in the provision of services.

Governments around the world are taking decisive steps to accompany their citizens and businesses; Without government support, neither citizens nor companies will be able to face the consequences of this pandemic, including a great loss of jobs and the inability of the private sector to help drive the urgent recovery of the economy.

At Venamcham, we call the National Executive to take action, and offer on behalf of our affiliates, to work together and in solidarity, in order to generate effective solutions to safeguard companies and preserve the social fabric for the wellbeing of the country.

Venezuelan-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Caracas, March 22, 2020