Locals criticise Chinese housing investment in Venezuela

A Chinese pledge to build and finance 20,000 homes in Venezuela has dismayed Venezuelans because the deal demonstrates the country's dependence on foreign expertise for simple technologies and President Hugo Chavez's continued borrowing spree.

Critics of the Chinese deal say they aren't against the Chinese arriving in large numbers to build and deliver the housing units, part of the president's overall plan to secure re-election, but they do oppose heavy borrowing and lack of substantial technology transfer arrangements.

Venezuela has a chronic housing shortage with up to 2 million of its 26 million people population in need of shelter or improved housing. Venezuela signed an agreement with Chinese companies Citic Group and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. to negotiate a $4 billion loan to finance housing and construction projects.

Citic International Contracting Inc., a unit of China's state-owned Citic Group, will build the 20,000 housing units and start a joint venture with Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. to operate mature crude fields, Chavez announced on state television.

Source: UPI