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Audit in PDVSA, the corruption march

By Daniel Duquenal | Venezuela News and Views

04.04.05 | Tal Cual had an article on Thursday about how difficult it is to know what really is going on inside PDVSA, the state oil monopoly, now in the hands of Chavez as his own little personal cash box. I just need to translate the sub headline:

In few countries it could be conceived what in Venezuela seems normal: the business that generates 80% of our earned dollars still cannot be audited. The administration of the company does not present balance sheets or audited operations since 2003. This is a new ideal habitat for corruption to grow at ease. The search for new markets looks favorable to switch sales from the traditional buyers of the USA.

I will "translate" further the point, for those that might not get it still.

PDVSA is now the private property of Hugo Chavez and thus there is no serious inquiry possible to figure out a few things that a normal business should do:

What is being sold?
What is being produced?
Where do the monies go?

There is simply no way to run a decent business if those three questions are not answered.

It seems rather incredible that Chavez does as he pleases with what belongs to ALL Venezuelans who have the right to know where their property goes, even if they do not agree with how it is managed and for what purpose.

And all of this at a moment where our local IRS, SENIAT, is stepping up a campaign which looks more like a witch hunt of private business for minor infractions than a real tax policy. Friday I was asked for the first time ever when I was paying for two loaves of bread and bottled water my ID number, my full name and my phone number!!!! A detailed bill now has to be made for everything that is taxable in a store, and has to have on it all that information. I can understand that for big ticket items, but for bread? Of course I gave a false name, a false ID and a false phone number, just for the sake of it. And I know scores of people doing that whereas it was the first time for me, the outrage of having to report my life details if I buy bread was just too much! But a thought occured: could it be possible that Chavez does not want the SENIAT to know how he is spending PDVSA money and is doing exactly what I did yesterday, and will keep doing from now on? Kafka would have had it so easy....

It remains that abscence of a serious audit could be indeed one of the real reasons why Chavez does not want to sell oil in the US where there are such organisms such as the SEC who like to know what people are doing, legally, with large amounts of money. Just as Chavez wants to know what I am doing with my money. Thus Chavez tries to get business partners with corrupt practices of their own, such as China and Cuba. Just as I might start doing when I buy items in cash. After all, he is teaching by example.

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