CARACAS, Monday March 27, 2006 | Update
MARIA LILIBETH DA CORTE
President Hugo Chávez promised to deliver 150,000 houses by the end of 2006. Now, he is prepared to issue a decree "to regulate and expropriate, if needed" dwellings in the secondary sector intended to be sold "at stratospheric levels."
"Government as such must be exercised; power as such must be exercised to the benefit of everybody instead of safeguarding individual interests, " Chávez warned during his TV and radio show "Aló, Presidente" No. 250, broadcast from Valles del Tuy, in central Miranda state, in one of the "new towns" that are being built.
During the show, Minister of the Interior and Justice Jesse Chacón told Chávez that the prices of houses in the secondary sector soared above the actual value as soon as the Ministry of Housing started to buy them for residents of high risk areas.
"If John Doe in Caracas has five houses, including one of his own and another four put on sale, and wants to cash in on present circumstances to sell for 100 million a house that actually costs 40 or 40 million, no way, compadre, this is regulated. If he is reluctant to make a deal, then we can enforce a decree on expropriation in the public interest and pay the real value," the ruler explained.
He asked the ministers who composed the housing command to carry out a quick survey of the market.
"If there is need to order stiff pricing, then let us do it sooner than later. If there is need to seize the houses of those people who have them on sale and do not want to sell them except for fabulous, atmospheric, stratospheric prices, then, let us do it. We cannot stop, always within the legal framework," he clarified.
Almost at the end of the five-hour show, Minister of Housing and Habitat Luis Figueroa reported that he, along with his counterparts of Finance and Light Industries, as well as the National Integrated Customs and Tax Administration Service (Seniat,) and the Banks Superintendence started to discuss an initiative with the Real Estate Chamber to "monitor or make prices steady."