Associated Press

Caracas, June 26:

President Hugo Chavez toured a house made of plastic and promised to build thousands more like it for Venezuela’s poor as he marked the creation of a national petrochemical company.

Chavez said the new Corporacion Venezolana de Petroquimica (Pequiven) will step up production of products from plastics to fertilizer as it begins operating independently from the state-run oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

“We are going to turn Venezuela into a petrochemical power,” Chavez said, wearing a hardhat as he visited a petrochemical plant in the western state of Zulia, “From today on, Pequiven is independent.”

Stepping through a model home with plastic walls built on the factory grounds, he touted it as an economical solution. He said such homes cost about 35 per cent less than those built with cinderblocks.

Officials yesterday also signed a series of agreements for petrochemical projects, including one to begin producing the plastic houses. Officials said they will be able to produce 1,300 plastic homes this year, and as many as 30,000 next year.