Increased tax revenues from the Bolivian oil and gas industries are being used to support social welfare programmes, including a programme to encourage pregnant women and new mothers to attend pre- and post-natal classes, with excellent results.
Back in 2006, as little as 18% of the value of Bolivia’s oil and gas exports stayed in the country.
Christian Aid partners CEDLA and Fundación Solón were two organisations that led the calls for change. They helped mobilise thousands of activists to campaign for the re-nationalisation of the oil and gas industries.
People from all over Bolivia called for a new constitution, making natural resources like oil and gas the property of the Bolivian people.
Christian Aid partners in Bolivia
CEDLA produced radio shows and leaflets in different indigenous languages, helping marginalised people to understand the tax system.
Fundación Solón ran mural competitions, many of which highlighted the importance of Bolivians having control over their own resources.
This public pressure led Evo Morales – the President – to bring the industry back under state control when he was elected in 2006. International oil and gas companies were forced to renegotiate their deals (this process was aided, in part, by CEDLA) and today Bolivia keeps 50% of the value of all its oil and gas production.
Healthy mums, healthy babies
Mums are now entitled to money if they attend pre- and post-natal sessions.
Among other things, this extra money from the oil and gas taxation has helped to fund a programme for mums-to-be and new mums.
It works by providing cash payments as an incentive for mothers to attend pre- and post-natal classes. The money is paid in stages when mums and babies attend their appointments.
Since the programme began, chronic infant malnutrition has fallen from 27% to 15.5% and the number of babies born in Bolivia with the support of trained medical staff has risen from 55% in 2009 to 76% today (2013).
Work still needs to be done to ensure that all Bolivian women – especially those in rural areas – know about and have access to this programme but this is a positive example of how tax revenues can work for the poorest people.
Taxes help 2.4 million Bolivians
Other welfare programmes funded by the taxes include:
The Renta Dignidad - a universal state pension for everyone over 60
The Juancito Pinto - a grant for primary school children to help them pay for school books and uniforms
Nationwide school breakfasts for primary school children
Along with the cash payments for mums, the programmes help to support 2.4 million of Bolivia’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
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