Tuesday, October 19, 1999

The Petropolitan Manifest

 The Petropolitan Manifest

We are an oil country, but one day we will stop being one. Interpreting that “sowing oil” means having to move in advance from one economy to another, applying an economic model and developing economic activities unrelated to an oil reality, is wrong and constitutes the perfect excuse for today's apathy.


This month, in England, with oil at more than US$ 20 per barrel, the consumer must pay Bs. 820 per liter of normal gasoline, of which the distributor receives Bs. 31, the producer, who sacrifices a non-renewable asset, obtains a paltry Bs. 117, while the English Treasury charges confiscatory taxes of Bs. 672. In fact, what is charged by the Treasury, when compared with what is received by the producer, indicates the existence of something similar to a commercial tariff that around 600%.


The same happens in Germany, Japan, Spain, etc. The taxes that consuming countries apply to petroleum products imply for them only a redistribution of their national income, while, due to their negative effects on the demand and prices of petroleum, they cause a real reduction in the national income of the producing countries.


The obscene levels at which these taxes are today in most of the world, with the threat of becoming higher every day, constitute a trade war declared against the economic interests of Venezuela. The fact that our country does not protest about this, just as it did not protest about the ban on the use of Orimulsion in Florida, is indicative of a lack of will and national conscience, without which, with or without oil, we are nothing.


The historical indifference of the authorities (Government and PDVSA) towards the aforementioned problem led to the formation of the PETROPOLITAN movement. Its activities are nourished by a series of beliefs, not inscribed on stones, but based on the continuous interpretation that its members make of the best interests of the country, which we summarize below:


We Petropolitans believe that the true “sowing of oil” must mean the sowing, in the hearts of Venezuelans, of the will to defend, with pride and responsibility, their real interests, which in essence are and will continue to be so for several decades, his oil interests.


1. We Petropolitans believe that the true “sowing of oil” must mean the sowing, in the hearts of Venezuelans, of the will to defend, with pride and responsibility, their real interests, which in essence are and will continue to be so for several decades, his oil interests.


2. The value of a good is calculated based on the price that the final consumer is willing to pay. Hence, the difference between what the world consumer of gasoline pays today and the little that the producer receives shows, within the framework of the principles of free trade, the presence of a scam.


3. Certain that there is strength in unity and even more so in a globalized world, we support Venezuela's permanence in OPEC. However, we demand that that organization develop new and better defenses of its interests. Not fighting taxes and limiting production only guarantees its extinction.


4. We object to any inference to an absolute and necessary relationship between oil revenues and a wasteful economic model. The results obtained to date have no relationship with a rentier model. If we had applied a true and responsible rentierism, living off a portion of the income and not the capital, the story would be different and Venezuela would be in a very envious economic situation.


5. We reject any derogatory expression, such as “devil's excrement”, which hinders the emergence of a necessary feeling of respect and gratitude for oil, without which it is impossible to manage our wealth for the good of future generations.


6. Since we know that oil is a non-renewable asset of the country, we believe that the defense of its price and value should be the main objective of our industry and we reject the concept of a maximization of current income, which is based on the maximize sales volumes.


7. Even though their fiscal purpose is evident, oil taxes are hidden behind the cloak of "green protectionism." At the same time that we affirm a commitment to the defense of the environment, we reject, as unfair, that the producing countries must pay 100% of their cost.


8. Oil certainly doesn't create many jobs. However, we must avoid falling into schizophrenic models where the country, being an oil producer, deals with the anguish of not being one, making mistakes whose impact on the generation of stable employment is even more negative.


9. The results of the international agreements signed by the country during the last decades do not compensate the cost of having to respect the sources of income of the developed world, such as trademarks and patents, without them respecting our right to obtain the majority of what corresponds to the valuation of our oil asset.


10. In the defense of oil, it is not possible to replace the importance of a solid will of the country, with the hiring of international advice and lobbying.


11. There are Patriots willing to give their lives in the event that a foreign entity enters our country, in order to extract barrels of oil. Oil taxes imposed by the consuming world are, in essence, a similar invasion. It is the responsibility of the Petropolitan to report this.