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Venezuela: Consolidation of Administrative Powers in Executive Branch

(July 27, 2009) A new law issued on March 17, 2009, amends Venezuela's Organic Law on the Decentralization, Delimitation, and Transference of Competencies of the Public Power that was published on August 14, 2003. The amendments allow the transference of powers previously within the realm of the states to the executive branch for the administration of goods and services deemed to be in the public interest.

Under the amended Law, the executive branch is granted sweeping discretion to determine the transference of such powers and to administer the transferred public services, based on strategic reasons, opportunity, or convenience, in order to ensure the quality of the services provided to users and consumers. These powers relate to the administrative and political organization of the states and their property, budgets, and police forces. They also concern the family, education, culture, indigenous communities, sports, employment, farmers, agriculture, industry and commerce, the environment, zoning, public infrastructure, housing, consumer protection, health and safety, nutrition, scientific research, and civil defense.

On the other hand, the Law transfers certain limited powers to the states in connection with the issuance and collection of the sealed paper tax (a unique Venezuelan tax similar to the U.S. stamp tax) and the administration of certain non-precious stones and minerals used for construction, including the administration of taxes levied on such materials. The powers eligible for transference to the states, however, are retained by the executive branch until the states' legislative councils pass laws implementing the transference.

Finally, the Law supports the current legal regime concerning the coordinated conservation and administration of national highways by the executive branch and the states in accordance with the mandatory guidelines issued by the former. (Organic Law on the Decentralization, Delimitation, and Transference of Competencies of the Public Power [consolidated text as amended] [in Spanish], MIPUNTO.COM,
(last visited July 22, 2009).)