Thursday, February 1, 2001

No, thanks

No, thanks
The following paragraph is extracted verbatim from the UK Energy Report 1999, published by the Department of Trade and Industry of England.
“The retail price of products is largely determined by taxes, especially for fuel. The attached figures ... illustrate the increasing proportion of the price of gasoline attributable to taxes. The incidence of taxes, ...explains around 85 percent of the final price of unleaded gasoline..." Prices are expected to continue growing, given the commitment of the English Government to increase taxes on petroleum by an average of 6 % annual, above inflation.
The report's figures indicate that the price of petrol before tax fell from 15 to 10 pence per liter between 1980 and 1999, a decrease of 33%. However, for the same period in England, the consumer price went from 26 to 68 pence per liter, increasing 162%. The explanation for this phenomenon is found in the various taxes on gasoline, which rose from 11 pence in 1980 to 58 pence per liter in 1999, an increase of 427%.
Taxes, applied in a discriminatory manner to oil, which favor coal, for example, affect both the volume and the sales price of our main export product and therefore directly harm our country. All of Europe applies taxes of the same order and the other consuming economies, except the United States, are evolving in the same direction.
It was only a few months ago that the magnitude of these taxes was understood and the consequences, at least in Europe, were serious protests by consumers. It will be necessary to observe whether in 2001, countries like England and Germany, even when stripped, continue with their pre-programmed increases.
The relative silence of Venezuela and other oil-producing countries, the truly aggrieved ones, is surprising. Sometimes I wonder if such passivity has its origin in the fact that in this globalized world, everyone is still dying for the possibility that one day The Queen will invite them to have tea in her palace.
In November 2000, the president of the European Energy Foundation of the European Union, with great cynicism, announced that in the dialogue between oil consumers and producers, everything could be discussed, except taxes, since these did not significantly affect consumption.
In December 2000, the European Union announced a donation of 55 million euros for the reconstruction of Vargas, to be disbursed over two years.
In a world that preaches free trade, oil taxes are hypocrisy. I, being a Venezuelan of European descent, may react in particular, but I am convinced that we have to place our protest in its correct dimension. In this sense, and even if I had never rejected the help offered by the United States during the tragedy in Vargas, today I would not hesitate to respond to Europe: No thanks, we do not want your donation, that amount is equivalent to what Venezuela would obtain each week if You, on the basis of false environmentalism and real fiscal voracity, do not apply taxes that discriminate against oil. We will not help calm their institutional conscience by accepting some insolent barter with begging mirrors.

(Translated by Google from an Op-Ed published in Venezuela February 1, 2001)