Saturday, July 20, 2019

Without freeing Venezuela from its centralized oil revenue curse, Venezuelans will only live in somebody else’s business

Too many leaders around the world keep a Che Guevara shirt in their closet. Therefore whenever Venezuela’s tragedy is framed in terms of socialism… like well fed Pavlov dogs, many of them react instinctively with a: “then it cannot just be so bad”.
That makes it harder for us who need to get rid of the current odious regime and urgently build a better future. 
The truth is that Venezuela lives under the yoke of immense natural resource revenues, which are centralized and managed by some few redistribution profiteers.
Some years those revenues have signified 97% of our entire nation’s exports, something that would negate a free capitalistic market anywhere. 
What we need, in order to at last live in a nation, and not in somebody else’s business, is oil revenue sharing.
“Socialism…then it cannot just be so bad”? During the corrupt, inept and human rights violating regimes of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s poorest 40% got less than 15% of what they would have received had oil revenues been shared out equally to all.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Today we Venezuelans need something very solid to grasp, so as with impetus again believe in the future of our nation.

Venezuela's legitimate creditors should know that their only chance of collecting anything depends on whether Venezuela manages to raise a reasonable capacity to extract oil again, at a reasonable cost.
Anyone who arrives to have the responsibility of governing the country should know that without Venezuela being able to raise a reasonable oil extraction capacity, at a reasonable cost, and in a relatively short period, their chances of continuing to have the confidence of the people are nil.
If most of the net oil revenues (resultas petroleras), are shared equally among all Venezuelans then they will know that, compared to having to bend before authorities to beg for a few Claps, or free gasoline, or foreign currency at preferential rates, they would be in heaven. At last they will be able to feel living in a nation and not in somebody else’s business.
Because of the above, I am sure that to raise the soul of our Venezuela, there is nothing better than a great agreement based, for example, in the legitimate creditors during the next 25 years getting 15% of our net oil revenues, the government 34% and citizens 51%.
Impossible? No! Our current legitimate creditors would be delighted with the establishment of a repayment source directly related to the income obtained by an increased oil extractive capacity.
And I am sure that with the certainty of an institutional agreement like the previous one, it would rain offers from qualified oil companies to make the many investments that are necessary today, after PDVSA has converted its assets into junk.
And I am sure that both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund would be delighted to transparently supervise the correct implementation of such an agreement.
The difficulty? Those hunting the oil revenues and their friends, those who always distribute our oil results to keep the best part for themselves. Again, they will argue that if they manage 34% plus 51%, our Venezuela will be better. Should we keep believing them? No way Jose!
The faster an agreement like this one is reached, one in which everyone will be rowing in the same direction, the easier it will be to straighten out our twisted and saddened country, in order to give it the necessary encouragement to find solutions to its many other problems.
In addition, any restructuring of debt has, for simple humanitarian reasons, the duty to seek to provide quick and sustainable responses to the most pressing needs of Venezuelans, primarily those of its malnourished children and those of its elderly painfully abandoned adrift. Humanitarian aid and loans from multilateral institutions help in the short term, but they do not represent a sustainable source of resources.
Of course, under this redistribution distribution plan it would be much easier to end this economic crime against humanity of giving away gasoline in Venezuela, instead of selling at its opportunity value in the international market.
I use here the term petroleum extraction since, for decades I have consider it a disrespect to that providence that placed petroleum under Venezuelan earth, to refer to it as producers.
Translated from Petropolitan

Friday, September 22, 2017

Now the Norwegian wealth fund has more than $1trn in assets. To whom will that fortune be paid out?

I am sure that in Venezuela we are again going to hear: “Leave it to us to run a Norwegian type Wealth Fund so that we will make you all rich in no time”

As a Venezuelan who way back in 1974, during the first oil boom, had to do with the incipient Venezuelan Investment Fund, I have often wondered the following: 
Had we had the luck of getting the best of advisers and the least political interference possible, how much could we have accumulated in a fund like the Norwegian Wealth Fund, before it would be impossible to resist the attacks of bandits, or before a populist inflamed the desires of a majority for having a go at the piñata?
In The Economist we now read that the NWF gained “$100bn in the past year, thanks in large measure to the global stockmarket boom in 2017”… and now its management (surely a lot because of its success), is “increasingly acting as an activist shareholder, speaking out on executive pay, ethical behaviour, companies’ use of water, child labour and more”. 
What would the reaction be if billions of the NWF now suddenly vanished because of adverse market conditions?
Would there then be a Norwegian politician arguing for much of NWF to be shared out before its too late? 
Will some Norwegians begin to ask: “how much is that worthy social investment conscience costing us”? 
And when the NWF perhaps begins to pay out more than it takes in, among other because of demographic changes increasing the number of older Norwegian, will we then hear from the young: “Yes it mentions pensions, but, hold it there, what about us?”
You doubt it? In 1990 when the fund was created its name was The Petroleum Fund of Norway, in 2006 it changed its name to The Government Pension Fund Global 
Also does not the sole existence of such a wealthy wealth fund little by little begin changing the national character? Would the Norwegian Vikings have ventured out on dangerous seas if they had already been in possession of $200.000 each?
Norway justified much its fund with having to keep foreign earnings abroad so as to avoid the Dutch disease of an overvalued currency. But Norway was already a more developed nation with much less immediate needs. Venezuela has more urgent priorities.

Anyone could argue all these comments by a Venezuelan are just pure envy. Of course they contain a lot of envy, but that's not all. Much more important than a very wealthy national wealth fund, is the existence of able and not dependent citizens. 
For me that requires getting rid of that submissively pleading attitude that grows upon citizens, when the government receives for distribution 97% of the nations exports.

So I would much rather prefer Venezuela's net oil revenues being shared equally and continuously among all Venezuelans, to a wealth fund like this.  
Frankly, who can think that a nation where children are dying or growing up malnourished, while gas is sold at less than US$1 cent per gallon, is socially or mentally prepared to have a Wealth Fund?
Venezuela has by far the cheapest price of gas, Norway the most expensive... that should tell you something. (Perhaps the Norwegian government has received more income by means of gas taxes than what they have given up to the fund.)

What would I suggest my Norwegian friends?
The first answer: I really do not know or dare to suggest anything. I just pray their beautiful fund does not morph into something bad.
The second answer: Go back to its original name. Whatever is paid out should, as a Norwegian Oil Dividend, let it go equally to all living Norwegians, without any redistribution profiteers interfering. For a magnificent wealth fund like this, that has helped to create much richness in foreign lands, to end up its days only funding the pensions for the old of some lucky generations, sounds just too sad.

PS. Someone might call the very high ownership or control by the state of a nations wealth, socialism. But I, as a Venezuelan, a nation in which the largest oil reserves are managed by the government know, that the higher the level of state ownership, the greater the dangers that it will be captured by authoritarian criminals.
PS. Here a slightly different version in Spanish on the same concerns

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Venezuela’s government is guilty of unimaginable cruelty giving away gas/petrol in a land suffering from lack of food and medicines

Even after in February 2016 its price was increased 6.000% gas/petrol is still sold in Venezuela at Bs.6 per liter, which calculated at the official SIMADI rate of today of Bs.642/US$, means less than 1 US$ cent per liter, or less than 4 US$ cents per gallon.
That is something truly irresponsible to do in the best of times, but when that happens in times of immense human sufferings derived from the lack of food and medicines, then it represents such unimaginable cruelty that it should be denounced before international courts of justice.
When is some institution to speak out loud and clear on this? I denounced it to the Organization of American States, OAS, in July 2015, but still not a word.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The last thing Venezuela needs is to believe its problems are all fixable by choosing alternative redistributionists

Moisés Naím and Francisco Toro write “What our country [Venezuela] is going through is monstrously unique: It’s nothing less than the collapse of a large, wealthy, seemingly modern, seemingly democratic nation just a few hours’ flight from the United States” “Venezuela is falling apart” The Atlantic, May 12.
And the authors ask: “But why? It’s not that the country lacked money… the government led first by Chavez and, since 2013, by Maduro, received over a trillion dollars in oil revenues over the last 17 years. It faced virtually no institutional constraints on how to spend that unprecedented bonanza.”
And the authors answer: “The real culprit is chavismo, the ruling philosophy named for Chavez and carried forward by Maduro, and its truly breathtaking propensity for mismanagement (the government plowed state money arbitrarily into foolish investments); institutional destruction (as Chavez and then Maduro became more authoritarian and crippled the country’s democratic institutions); nonsense policy-making (like price and currency controls); and plain thievery (as corruption has proliferated among unaccountable officials and their friends and families).”
But that answer, no matter how true it can seem, is very dangerous and not what Venezuela needs, in order to have a chance to a better future. Because that answer implies that if only those in the government were better, real smart well-intentioned technocrats, then everything would be nice and dandy… and that is not so! 
The real explanation of Venezuela’s tragedy has two main components:
First, there is no way a Chavez/Maduro tragedy will not happen, sooner or later, to a country that hands over to its government the power of over 95 percent or more of all the nations exports, without “virtually no institutional constraints on how to spend” it.
Second there is no way of achieving a functional society and economy with a dysfunctional elite that says nothing about, for instance, the immorality present in giving away the whole value of gasoline just to those buying it. In fact most of “the elite” felt that, since so much of the value of oil was otherwise given away to other countries, free gas was an adequate quid-pro-quo.
Fact is, the 40 percent poorest of Venezuela probably received less than 15 percent of their per capita share of oil revenues. Fact is that few or even no one had an interest in doing that calculation, as everyone was too busy making sure they got more than their fair share of such revenues.
So, for a country like Venezuela to have a chance of finding good governments in a sustainable way, it has to sap the central powers by means of a Universal Basic Income scheme, funded with the net revenues derived from the exploitation of non-renewable natural resources… and of course with such a correct alignment of the incentives, you can bet gasoline would never ever be given away for free again. 

Let's face it, we Venezuelans we currently do not live in a nation, we live in somebody else's business.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

To OAS’ IACHR I denounced the economic crime against humanity that means giving away gasoline in Venezuela.
Dear applicant:
This application was received today and will be evaluated by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Fittingly it will be informed to the email address provided, if the request was granted.
As of September 18, 2015 will receive a notification with the decision regarding your application. As of October 9, 2015 the schedule of hearings can be found at
Below is a copy of the request sent:
"Request for a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to discuss the possible rating of improper subsidies, as an economic crime against humanity”
My legal argument:
The Charter of the Organization of American States establishes among its principles that "the elimination of poverty ... is the common and shared responsibility of the American States (Art: 3f)., And also to be" devote their utmost efforts ... to achieve equitable distribution of national income; (Art. 34.b).
The American Convention on Human Rights (1969) states in Article 26 that "States parties undertake to ... achieving progressively the full realization of the rights implicit in the economic, social and educational, scientific and cultural standards set forth in the Charter of the OAS ... to the extent of available resources, through legislation or other appropriate means ".
And finally, in the case of "Discharged and Retired Employees of the Comptroller vs. Peru" (2009) it has established case law when in the judgment read that the Commission "is competent to decide whether the State has committed a violation or breach of any of the rights recognized in the Convention, including with regard to Article 26 of the same ".
So here is my petition:
Based on the above I request a hearing to discuss the issue of about if granting improper financial subsidies by a State, may be considered a violation of the economic rights of its citizens.
The specific case on which would base the discussion is refers to the gasoline that for all practical purposes is given away free in Venezuela, to the detriment of those who do not consume and to the detriment of those who have other unmet needs.
To this end I would like to include the link to an article published in El Universal in December 2009 and in which I discuss the possibility of requesting a discussion on the topic:
Since that date to now, the price of gasoline has not yet been set, and perversion of the subsidy is increasing. I annex a calculation I made in August 2014.
Let me assure you right now, at this moment, the official price of a liter of milk is around 300 times higher than the price of a liter of gasoline ... and if that is not an economic crime against humanity what is?
Per Kurowski
Identity Card 1799580
Washington, 29 July 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

#CSIGDF Development: Help us oil cursed citizens by setting up one good example of oil revenue sharing

I come from a country, Venezuela, where over 97 percent of all the nations exports goes directly into government coffers. That makes it an impossible country!
If there is any real help those involved with development could give us citizens who live in such oil cursed countries, basically living in somebody else’s businesses, that would be to set up somewhere, anywhere, an oil revenue sharing system that hands over those resources directly to the citizens.
That is the good example we need to have in order to follow.
The US Congress Iraq Study Group Report of May 2006 stated: “There are proposals to redistribute a portion of oil revenues directly to the population on a per capita basis. These proposals have the potential to give all Iraqi citizens a stake in the nation’s chief natural resource"... how tragic this was not pursued vigorously... what a difference that would have made.

Friday, May 16, 2014

William Easterly's "The tyranny of the experts" should be required reading for any oil cursed citizen.

Autocrats and experts have been re-potentiated by Thomas Piketty book "Capital in the XXI Century", which opens up so many new opportunities to sell their expertise in the re-distribution of resources to end inequality. 
As a counterbalance, "The tyranny of the experts" by William Easterly, should be required reading for all those living the oil curse, a Petrocracy, because this book makes clear that the only experts allowed must be us, the citizens.
The idea that a few oiligarchs may know better what to do with 29 million share parts of oil revenues, than every citizen with his share ... is in the short, medium and long term simply absurd. With, in July 2014, 100 years of experimentation, we in Venezuela should have had enough!
Extracted and translated from El Universal
PS. Just as an example currently, June 2014, in this peculiar 21st Century Socialist Venezuela, normal milk, if you can get it, is sold at 278 times the price of gas... that sure must be an economic crime against humanity.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

EITI, go home!

The sad truth is that there are cases where a total transparency which makes it clear to the citizens how powerful their government really is, can, and in my opinion will, lead to an increase feeling among citizens that their destiny is not in their own hands and that they have to submit themselves to the will of the powerful guardians of the natural resource income.
EITI must therefore clearly identify when income from natural resources might strengthen governments to such an extent that citizens are inescapably living under a de facto autocracy, which makes it impossible for an effective democracy to function.
If EITI does not do that then it will be selling false illusions and in fact strengthening the ruling autocrats-petrocrats.
And if EITI does not do that then we have no choice but to ask… EITI, go home!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Friends of Venezuela, here is what you could really do to help Venezuelans

In Venezuela the government, on top of all the government authority invested in it, and on top of all its ordinary taxing power, is currently receiving 98% of all the nation’s exports, and deciding over its use.
Tell the Venezuelans that is a system of which you cannot possibly expect sustainable decent economic results, and of which you cannot expect that the government, sooner or later, will not assume an arrogant besserwisser attitude, by with which it begins to abuse its powers.
And if that can happen to “civilized” and educated government, imagine what could happen in the case of a primitive government.
Tell the Venezuelans that if they want to live in a nation, and not just in somebody’s good business, they need, as they did in Alaska, to wrestle the oil revenues away from the government and share these out, among all citizens, in equal parts.
Just think about how you would feel, as citizens, if your government received 98 percent of all of your nation’s exports?
Thanks, your help is appreciated. You see that it is not easy for Venezuelans to break out of something they have learned to live with and adapt to, ever since they are born and until they die.
And please, whatever you do, don't feed the Venezuelans with that bullshit that all their problems from this excess of government powers, is fixable by just adding some transparency and electing the right kind of people.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Creditors of Venezuela, read our Constitution!

In the same way there are international conventions that help foreign investors to collect what governments duly owe them, there should be agreements that help citizens not to be saddled with the payment of debts incurred by governments who violate their constitutions.
If the articles of incorporation of a company stated that it was not allowed to borrow more than 50 % of its assets, but its president is asking for loans that would take its debt to 100% ... it should be difficult to get a reputable law firm to issue a legal opinion stating that there will be no problem.
And, if constitutions are the statutes by which citizens defend themselves from the excesses of their governments; and if creditors expect citizens to sacrifice themselves honoring the debts of their country to which their governments have subscribed... I think citizens should be able to expect from potential creditors, to at least throw a glimpse at their constitutions, to see if these are met.
And it does not matter where the creditors come from, whether Wall Street, San Cristóbal or Cochinchina.
And it is not that I expect creditors to be aware of everything in our Constitution, such as if the expressed rights of indigenous people are complied with but, as a minimum minimorum, sophisticated financiers should be able to tell, detail, whether there is compliance of an Article 320 which states:
"The State shall promote and defend economic stability, prevent the vulnerability of the economy and ensure monetary and price stability, to ensure social welfare. The Ministry of Finance, and the Central Bank of Venezuela, will contribute to the harmonization of fiscal policy and monetary policy, facilitating the achievement of macroeconomic objectives. In exercising its functions, the Central Bank of Venezuela will not be subject to directives of the Executive and may not endorse or finance fiscal deficits."
And so! Can anyone who knows anything about finance, argue that our Constitution has been complied with? Of course not! And so, as a citizen, I here inform our creditors they better not come crying to me tomorrow looking for my support to get paid.
And all citizens of the world, messed up by their bad governments, should take the same attitude ... and we should show solidarity with them all.
And I'm not throwing out warnings after the fact... like would a bad payer. In "Odious Debt", March 2004, and "OdiousCredit", April 2004, I begged creditors to collaborate with citizens ...and nothing! And as salt in the wound Venezuela has paid them exorbitant interests. Well guess what? You can begin applying those high risk premiums to the principal owed... in order for us to at least confirm you your risk assessment.
And what fault of mine is it that the creditors did not read it? They should follow me on Twitter!
Having us Venezuela citizens recently been mocked by the OAS, that clubhouse of governments where constitutions are not even read, it is clear that we need the OCA, the Organization of American Citizens.
PS. There are many polls, but the one I would most like to see, is one that asks the participants of the 4F-1992 Hugo Chavez coup, whether what we now have in Venezuela is what they dreamed about.
PS. I am seeking a "democratic dictator" who would be willing to rip our oil revenues out of the hands of our Petro-state, and hand these over to the citizens. That would earn him a place in history, as the one who achieved the true independence of Venezuela.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Revenue Watch Institute, give some of us oil-cursed citizens the Resource Mis-Governance Index instead

Again, May 2013, the Revenue Watch Institute presents its “Resource Governance Index”, and again I have to sit there being sold the subliminal message that even in a country like mine, where the central government receives directly over 97 percent of all the countries exports, things could be fine and dandy in terms of “governance”. 
Do these experts really believe that they could have a chance for any good governance in their country if their government was receiving directly over 97 percent of all their countries exports? I guess the only way to do that is to be either a communists or a radical supporter of some absolute monarchy. 
The final composite score, which will make up the index that more than 99 percent will refer to, even adds up the different components without even weighing these with relation to how much the natural resource revenues means for each particular country. 
Why can’t they just make a cutoff and exclude all those countries where the governments receive directly over X amount of exports or of fiscal revenue from natural resources from participating in a Resource Governance Index? If they want to cover these countries let these participate in a Resource Mis-Governance Index instead. 
Do these experts not know they will be utilized by the illusionists? For instance in my country, Venezuela, it would not surprise me if the government now call upon us to celebrate the fact Venezuela has been placed, by experts, among the top third of all the countries in the world in terms of resource governance? 
Why do you make our goal as oil-cursed-citizens to reclaim directly some of the oil revenues, in cash, so as to level the playing field just a little? 
Don’t you understand that, as is, we citizen do not live in a nation, we live in somebody else’s good business? 
Or is it you want to have a piece of “somebody else’s good business”, as an assistant to the illusionist? I pray not.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

We oil-cursed citizens, we do not live in a nation, only in somebody else’s good business.

There I was explaining to some the impossibility of being a democracy when more than 97 percent of all the countries export revenues goes directly into the coffers of the government and as is the case of my Venezuela. 
And then Nakibuuka Maxensia Takirambule, a woman from a health sector NGO in Uganda observed: “Mr. I know exactly what you mean, we do not live in a nation but only in somebody else’s good business”. 
Boy how the truth hurts! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Comments on IMF’s Guide on Natural Resource Revenue Transparency

Specifically it asks: Should the Guide on Natural Resource Revenue Transparency be revised as part of this exercise? If so, what revisions should be made to the structure, format, and content of the Guide? 

Washington January 30, 2013 
Dear Sir, 
As an oil-cursed citizen I would hold that any information that is not easily and clearly understood by the citizens has nothing to do with real transparency, because the fundamental reason for any transparency is to extract real government accountability to the ordinary citizen and not to someone else, like a transparency “expert”. 
Therefore I would ask for the Guide on Natural Resource Revenue Transparency to be revised so as to include the following: 
1. For oil producing countries the most important data are: how many barrels of oil have been extracted, what were the costs incurred doing this, and how much net revenue the government received from oil, no matter how, on a monthly per citizen basis. And this should be reported in the major media on a monthly basis. 
2. If total oil revenues signify more than certain levels of the nation’s total export revenues, of its GDP, or of all Government tax revenues collected from citizens, then there must be an independent Ombudsman Office in charge of supervising and preparing the information. 
3. There should also be a monthly report that indicates the amount of subsidy or taxes, per liter or gallon of gasoline sold domestically, and calculated as if the gasoline could have been sold at international prices. 
4. I also urge the IMF, in the name of the same transparency, to report to the citizen of the oil-extracting countries how much fiscal revenue, per liter or gallon of gasoline is generated by all the taxes on its consumption in the oil-consuming countries. Quite often that amount surpasses all the gross revenues of the country that sacrifices the non-renewable resource forever and this even at current prices of oil. 
Per Kurowski 
Petropolitan A.C. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

SEC´s sunshine rules might signify more darkness.

The SEC, in accordance to what was requested in the Dodd-Frank Act, has now ordered US-listed companies to disclose the payments they make to the host governments.
That is absolutely great news… I mean of course for those countries where civil society is strong enough to matter... and where the governments have at least the intention of listening to it. 
But, in those countries where civil society is truly weak, as is most often the case of countries suffering the curse of abundant natural resources, those sunshine rules might only mean more darkness, as they could tend to exclude the sort of more reasonable or least unethical extractive industry corporations from participating, leaving the field open to the truly unreasonable and least ethical. 
Why do not invest instead all these well intentioned efforts in supporting the development of strong autonomous civil societies, independent of civil societies from other countries, and which can demand better results where it really matters, not in the corporate reports of companies listed in the stock-exchanges of developed countries, or in an annual report of a well intentioned NGO, but on their own oil-fields and mines? 
If the SEC would at least dare to follow up and approving a list of countries where a reasonable active participation of civil society existed, and in which therefore these sunshine rules must apply, and a list of those countries where these rules are impossible to apply, then that could be more helpful, not only for us oil cursed citizens, but perhaps even for SEC’s own listed natural resource companies.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for the EITI!

But now, when Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was unfortunately not appointed as World Bank President, why do we not make the best out of it and launch her candidacy as the next Chairman of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, EITI? 
I mean so that we oil-cursed citizens are represented there by an oil-extraction-cursed citizen and not an-oil-consuming-cursed citizen. 
I mean so that we oil-extraction-cursed citizens are not represented there by someone whose government, by means of taxes on gasoline-petrol consumption, gets more value out of a barrel of oil than what the oil-company and the oil-extracting country do together.
I mean there´s a slight difference between those who sell oil and those who buy it.
By the way, we know how the President of the World Bank gets elected, that is quite transparent, USA elects him, but how does the Chairman of the EITI get to be elected?

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Ecuador has been marketing for about three years a truly revolutionary proposal, Yasuní-ITT, consisting in asking the world for some of the resources it could obtain exploiting some important oil reserves so as not to have to exploit these, as they lie in a forest reserve that contains an extremely rich and valuable biodiversity. The proposal does not seem to be receiving as favorable response as it merits and I think I suspect some of reasons for that, besides that of having perhaps unnecessarily complicated the proposal with some technicalities.
During the 2009 UN conference on environment in Copenhagen I got upset seeing environmentalists from rich countries announcing that because the rich countries were the ones most to blame, they should and would assume the responsibility and pay for protecting the environment… which sounded just like global leftwing politicking, and effectively negated the poor the right to participate as human and equals in confronting something which from all perspectives would be a challenge to the human race.
In that respect it seems to me that the Yasuní-ITT proposal, because of its immense importance, should never have been presented as a government to government proposal, or one extended only to groups with environmental concerns, but should have been tabled as a proposal from the Ecuadorian citizens to all other indigenous people of the earth, meaning us, 1all other citizens. If the possible ecological damages of exploiting the oil in Yasuní-ITT are as serious as we are told, we cannot afford that the fight against these gets sequestered by other interests, agendas, or green Taliban.
Also, because the world needs oil and if not extracted in Yasuní-ITT it will do so elsewhere it would be good to have a study of the marginal environmental costs of exploiting oil in many different places. This would also be extremely important information if we later would like to replicate Yasuní-ITT.
The proposal was presented as having to select between a ferociously irresponsible oil extraction and a marvelous conservation of a habitat, and the truth is never that clear. It would be very important to know the cost and the significance of exploiting the oil in Yasuní-ITT in the most environmentally friendly way possible, so to also give the world the chance of accepting something that might sound more reasonable, or at least of knowing that this possibility has been analyzed. Since in Europe, the European taxman, by means of the taxes on its consumption derives more income from it than the country that gives up that resource for ever, it would seem quite reasonable that the European citizen could ask that at least a part of those taxes should go to help extract the oil in the best way possible. (Where is the oil company that specializes in green oil exploitation?)
But, more than anything, since no one likes to pay taxes to its own government much less would they like to pay a sort of an environmental tax to other governments, much less if these are rich in oil resources… the proposal should include that all funds, up to the last cent, should be given directly to the citizens of Ecuador… or in equal parts in cash, o through conditional cash transfer programs… for instance to all Ecuadorian children that go to school.
And I say this because as a Venezuelan I know very well that too much oil money in the hands of a government is bad… not only because it gets wasted, but mostly because, one way or another, involuntary or on purpose, that money ends up subjugating the citizens.
Translated from El Universal

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Citizens of Libya

Give yourselves a fighting chance to become real citizens in your own country. Demand for the oil revenues to be paid out to you directly. If you so wish, you can then later hand it over to your government in taxes… but at least that way you make it clearer to your government that it works for you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

As an oil-cursed citizen I object the Revenue Watch Index 2010... They do recall cars, don't they?

The 2010 Revenue Watch Index on the transparency of governments in oil gas and mining industries prepared by Revenue Watch and Transparency International was released on October 2010.

And there I see that my country Venezuela ranked 14th among 41 countries with 63.0 points out of 100 possible. What does that mean? I have no idea except being absolutely sure it does not mean what it is supposed to mean.

The first and foremost reason is that there either is sufficient information for a citizen to have a reasonable understanding of what the government is up to, or there is not. What would happened if auditors could rank companies in terms of how much of the information they would need to complete an audit they receive?

I have insufficient knowledge of other countries but what is absolutely certain is that in Venezuela the citizen is not receiving the information he would require to even have a sketchy idea of what its oil industry is really up to and how it is doing. And so I absolutely object to the ranking and declare that the ranking itself is extremely little transparent.


A fact such that the Venezuelan Government, even if it wants to market itself under the brand of 21st Century Socialism, gives away gas at the pumps for around US$ 5 cents per gallon and with that disappears a big chunk of Venezuela’s GDP, from those having nothing of nothing and gives it to the motorists, is not even reflected on the Index. Just that fact alone should have placed Venezuela among the last.

As an oil cursed citizen who knows that the absolute worst part of the oil-curse is the creation of an independently wealthy government for which the citizens are almost a nuisance, what I would like to see standing out in any applicable index, is how much of the oil revenues are turned over to the citizens in cash, no questions asked, no votes expected. This has not even been referred to in the Index.

Finally if you really want to be transparent on oil, you would have to complement this index with a report of how much the foreign taxman receives from taxing gasoline because that income often exceeds the whole oil income an oil extracting country receives for sacrificing its natural resources.

I truly understand and believe that Revenue Watch and Transparency International produce this index with their best intentions, and I thank them for that, but unfortunately, when you are an oil-cursed citizen all the best intentions of the world do not cut it.

I shiver to think how many oiligarchs and petrocrats can and will use the index to convince their poor oil-cursed citizens that they are doing a great job, comparable to what the other resource countries do, and, if off-track, this is only marginally so… as the figures indicate.

I respectfully request the Revenue Watch Index 2010 to be immediately recalled because of serious and dangerous malfunctioning! They do recall cars, don't they?

Ps. If further proof about the index being totally faulty is required, it suffices to mention that in the just published Corruption Perception Index 2010, published by Transparency International my country appears as number 164 among 178.

Ps. During the recent conference “Extractive Industries and sustainable Development” organized by the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment I had the opportunity to make some of the observation against the 2010 Revenue Watch Index to Karin Lissakers, the Director of Revenue Watch Institute. She admitted they also had serious doubts about it. But if they had serious doubts, why did they then go ahead and publish it? Have they never heard of “do no harm”?