The debate continues on the draft Organic Law of Special Economic Zones (LOZEE) in the country, as a proposal to exercise the active and leading participation that our Constitution mandates, summoned to the National Assembly by President Nicolás Maduro Moros.
Throughout our national geography, this legal instrument has been discussed, not from the comfort of a desk and a keyboard, or locked in a closed room, behind the back of the population. We have done it from the territories, with the actors and protagonists; the authorities, the industrialists, the workers and with the participation of the people.
From the perspective of research, development and innovation (R + D + I), the Special Economic Zones have served to develop scientific and technological capacities, which have been one of the strengths of the countries that reached higher levels of development, to at the same time that they have allowed the creation of institutional environments around them, with the creation of research centers, universities, training and education centers, increasing investment in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), promoting through technology transfer, new patents, discoveries, avoiding staying out of the knowledge society.
The Bolivarian Revolution understood the importance of this, and for this it developed an Organic Law of Science, Technology and Innovation (LOCTI), which obliges all Companies to contribute between 0.5% and 2% of their annual gross income to strengthen capabilities in CTI. The problem that we find ourselves with, from the productive point of view, is that the low level of diversification, and the dependence on oil, became a bottleneck to generate new knowledge – at least on a larger scale – to produce more extensive developments in the field of innovation.
It is necessary to remember that the LOZEE, although it provides tax incentives, these do not cover parafiscals such as contributions to the scientific-technological field. This is something that we must understand, because with a greater attracting of investors, be they national or foreign, it will result in greater sectoral taxation, at the same time that it will allow us to absorb new technologies, raising our competitiveness index, our insertion in the global economy, and in an environment in which we are in transition towards the fourth industrial revolution, as announced in Hannover in 2011, at the World Economic Forum. China has become a giant in the world of STI, and has achieved it in just over 40 years, since the establishment of the Special Economic Zones as a proposal that shaped its economy. Today, the Asian giant is at the forefront of telecommunications technologies, such as 5G and 6G, space technology, military, biotechnology, medicine, genetics, among other areas; something unthinkable if China had not opened up to the world with SEZs.
The People’s Republic of China went from an almost non-existent percentage of GDP in terms of investment in R&D in 1978, to 2.19% in 2018. This translates into 1.89 billion dollars that this country contributes to new knowledge , and that mean a greater degree of sovereignty, independence and development.
The LOZEE project has considered this so important, that it has included in its numeral c) of article 5, as a type of development that we can concentrate in this territorial area, at the same time that we define it as “Special Economic Zones for Development Technological: Oriented towards the deployment of productive chains and intensive investments with a high technological component, especially cutting-edge technologies. The goods and services to be produced in these areas will be exclusively of High Venezuelan Added Value. Zones of this type may not be created for trade in imported final goods or national goods that are not of High Venezuelan Added Value. ”, As we refer to it in the articles above above.
This also implies a greater commitment and articulation of our universities, research centers, as well as the working class so that we can articulate a technological scientific sub-system, around the SEZs, and allow us to increase our number of patents, scientific publications , new innovations, as well as the budgets allocated for such purposes. As it is demonstrated in the aforementioned articles, and in the very aspirations of this legal framework, they are very far from the criticisms that adjudicate them as maquilas and not as production centers, not only material but also knowledge.
What I am referring to is that the task of developing SEZs belongs to everyone, it requires the cooperation and positive contribution of those of us who dream of transforming the national economic model, providing us with greater capabilities, and making us more independent and sovereigns.
As we advance in the debate, questions, criticisms, doubts arise, as is normal, of the SEZs, however what is intended, as established in the bill, is to generate greater added value, through policies under the same conditions, promote industrial improvement and scientific technological capabilities, turning these spaces into catalytic areas for broader reforms, as an effective tool to attract both national and foreign investment, allowing higher wages to be paid, with gender equity, complying with the labor standards of our legal framework and in better conditions than in other places, with better environmental controls and practices. It ends up being curious that the orthodox detractors of the Law have so far not referred to a single article of it. Meanwhile, we will continue in the street with the people, debating what the great majorities demand for the great transformations that the national economy requires.