XXIst. Century Corruption by Teodoro Petkoff

December 11, 2006

XXIst. Century Corruption by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

It was not one of his opponents that said it, he himself said it. That bureaucracy and corruption are his worst enemies. We are not going to argue with him; since his own experience must have dictated such a revealing conclusion-even if it is akin to discovering warm water. But, if it really has to do with fighting that plague-which, for the good of the country, we all want-the continuist should make an auto critical exercise and think about his own responsibility in the expansion of that calamity. First of all, a petro state like ours is inherently bureaucratic and corrupt-even under a democratic Governments-but, if, on top of that, the Government is authoritarian and autocratic, it becomes even worse. To govern ignoring the Constitution and the law, with the top chief being the alpha and the omega of the managing of the country and concentrating all of the powers in the fist of the President, happens to be the unbeatable condition so that those perversions may thrive in the civil service. An authoritarian ruler generates fear and adulance and with that, all control begins to vanish.

He does what he wants. If, on top of that, all public institutions are subjected to him, the possibility of any controls definitely disappears.

When Chavez got to power he found thirteen ministries; he said they were too many and reduced them to eleven, to “reduce bureaucracy”. So far we are now up to 26. A step back to gain momentum. Some of them even overlap functions.

Each of them has generated its own and growing bureaucracy.

The number of institutes and commissions created throughout these years is countless. The bureaucracy and buruacratism are the inevitable consequences of such a proliferation of institutions.

The State and the Government have become more pachydermic, more rigid and extremely complicated in its procedures. Even worse, instead of reforming what he found-which was already deficient-, the Government has created a parallel public administration, with its own budget, as opaque and as inefficient as the first one.

Thus, the problem now is twice as large. We have to reform two public administrations.

How can corruption in the country not increase in a country where there are two budgets? The National Assembly approves one and the other one Chavez manages at his own discretion, with PDVSA’s money, which feeds directly the funds that have been created without laws and regulations, without being accountable to anyone and undercover from any from of control. How could corruption not increase in a country where all deals go through the petro-stat and where “how much is in it for me?” is the tacit norm. because all controls have disappeared?

On the other hand, the abundance of the military in public administration complicates things even more, because their training leads them to a style of management without deliberation, of “I lead and I order” and without control-more so because of the fear they inspire in their civilian colleagues, who see them as copies of “I, the Supreme Being”

The President should thus start, by looking at that sliver in his eye if it is true he wants to go further beyond his occasional speeches on the subject, just so that others believe in him, but without anyone in Government feeling that they are being alluded to.

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