Looking at Venezuela’s 2011 Nuclear and Electricity Budget

October 24, 2010

(I don’t know what you are good for, but you make us look important)

Venezuela’s budget has always (even before Chavez) been an exercise in lying. Beginning with its premises, grandiose expectations of a growing economy, lowering inflation and ending with a total amount that is always increased by 20% with “added credits”. Then, there are Chavez’ parallel funds that are use as petty cash to satisfy his whims and indulge his exhibitionism.

Thus, you can always look at next year’s budget, promising 2% GDP groth, 22% inflation and no devaluation as another futile exercize.

But I found it interesting that in the middle of announcements of a revolutionary nuclear future, with as many as 4,000 MW to be “built” in the next ten years, during 2011 the Venezuelan budget via the Ministry of Electricity assigns only Bs. 1.5 million to Nuclear projects. That is about 577,000 US dollars at the lowest rate of exchange. With that amount, you could not even do the studies for an adequate site for the first nuclear plant.

But even more worrisome is that the budget for all of the Ministry’s expenses comes to Bs. 6.6 billion, a meager US$ 2.5 billion for a sector that supposedly was going to receive US$ 4 billion just to build infrastructure in 2011. Want to know how absurd this is? The Supreme Court’s budget is Bs. 4.7 billion, US$ 1.8 billion, 72% of the electricity budget…Do I need to say more?

We may assume that funds will be moved from other allocations to the now so important nuclear sector, but then you go and read that the budge for new housing in the 2011 budget amounts to a scant US$ 300 million, while Chavez said he was assigning it US$ 1.5 billion.

Clearly something has to give. While funds may be found for one or the other, they will be limited and in the end it will all end up in announcements that do not become reality, as new announcements are made.

It’s the story of eleven years of Chavez’ rule.

14 Responses to “Looking at Venezuela’s 2011 Nuclear and Electricity Budget”

  1. An Interested Observer Says:

    The La Patilla report raises big questions about the official formal/informal employment breakdown as well. I’m not sure I agree with their logic – that informality was trending up doesn’t mean it would continue – but I have a hard time believing that they’re not using some fuzzy math there.

    Regardless of that statistic, I would bet that another thing is trending down, call it quality of employment. Using a scale of 0 to 1, with 1 as full-time (salaried, at least, por propia cuenta probably is the opposite) employment, and half-time employment as 0.5. I’ve got a feeling that that number is trending downward since 2004 as well. In other words, among people who aren’t losing their jobs, they’re getting fewer hours because there’s less work to be done. No numbers to back it up, but with how the economy is going, it’s hard to conceive it any other way.

  2. Kepler Says:


    Yep, it is incredible what you can do with numbers, specially if the vast majority of Venezuelans have no idea about numbers and analytical thinking.
    Not for nothing Venezuelan pupils came last out of 13 countries in the last UNESCO test Venezuela took part in, in – surprise, surprise – 1998.

    I have written a bit also about the unemployment figures. It is so sad most people don’t understand things in Venezuela. Chavismo says unemployment in Venezuela is lower than in the US, the EU, etc.
    In reality is is not higher, but several TIMES higher.

    Even if just 8.1% are “unemployed”, 50% (take or put a point) are classified as “en economía informal”. That economía informal is not the same as black economy in Europe, which is usually what some people do behind the counter – more in Greece, less in Germany-. Puesto informal in Venezuela is just an unemployed person who has to come around selling Chinese panties or Peruvian toilet paper, empanadas or the like without security, without insurance, without holidays, without pension. It is actually much worse than unemployment in Europe.
    So unemployment in Venezuela goes for well over 50% of the population, with just a few who are “informal” but earning enough for a pension without paying taxes (people usually like cocaine dealers)

  3. An Interested Observer Says:

    RF, the manipulation of numbers is old news – very old, in fact. I can’t remember the last time I posted something online about how bogus the un/employment numbers were, but it’s been a pretty long while (probably 2007 at the very latest). And it had been going on for years even then. I don’t have numbers in front of me at the moment, but most of what I figured out came from just analyzing the details in the official numbers you can find at ine.gob.ve. For example, while the “tasa de actividad” (those either working or seeking work) would surpass 70% on occasion, it hasn’t passed 67.1% since 2004. If you artificially take 3-5% of the workforce out of the equation, it does wonders for the unemployment rate.

    See here http://daniel-venezuela.blogspot.com/2006/02/chavismo-tricky-numbers-unemployment.html for example – I think I posted some comments there which were erased when Daniel transitioned his comment software. (The post also has a link to something I wrote about poverty statistics, not accusing the government of publishing fake statistics, but rather of using and abusing the numbers in invalid ways to propagate lies.)

    I don’t have access to more details at the moment (I’m not sure where the files where I saved some calculations I made are), but I do recall that there were some key differences in definitions, which were never made public but confirmed by INE employees, that made a tremendous difference. One, any Mision participant was automatically defined as inactive. It didn’t matter if they wanted a job or not, they haven’t been counted in years. Second, they changed the definition of employed. There had been a certain minimum time worked to be considered employed – the surveyors would call and ask if the person worked, then ask how much. Post-2004, the second question simply disappeared. So if you worked two hours last month for a family member in their business, and didn’t even get paid, you were employed, and counted in the statistics the same as the person who worked 80 hours/week.

  4. Kepler Says:

    Carlos is very right in pointing at all this.

    Chavistas, as Miguel said, are specialists in announcing stuff. It is like being specialists in creating Potemkin villages…with the only difference that they mostly announce such villages, they don’t even make the facades of any of them.

    The alternative parties have to finally put the whole thing under perspective. But to do that they need to use the fluffy records left in newspapers or better blogs like these (but then few Venezuelans speak English).

    On a similar topic: who has seen Belorussian flats in Aragua? According to material I have Belarus was going to build 5000 (not 4000) flats in Aragua and Barinas from 2008 at a cost of 300 million dollars. The Belorussian ambassador said back then 90 million were paid already.
    So? Now Hugo comes and tells people 4000 are going to be built and Venezuela will pay with oil. Where are the other 5000?
    That is much more money than the one for which Carlos Andrés Pérez had to leave office.
    I am asking people in Aragua and no one knows.

    Miguel, could you perhaps mention that to some of your friends?

  5. CarlosElio Says:

    Grandiose announcements followed by piss poor performance is endemic in Chavez’s government. It resembles a Hollywood Wild West town. In those movies where Clint Eastwood pulls the gun and kills three bad guys in the middle of the street the houses lining up the street are only facade. Behind the front of the Hotel or the store there are two inclined stilts holding the front.

    This government launches a satellite promising that 2,000 schools, 10,000 teachers and 2 million students would be getting their education through the internet. All medical records would be available on line. Telemedicine and teleducation would be at the forefront in Venezuela. CANT used to have a nice page about the Vensat. It does not exist anymore.

    The opposition does not seem to be effective pointing out the long nose of the government that lies systematically to its people.

  6. loroferoz Says:

    Hugo Chavez sure makes his big mouth land heavily on every imaginable area of knowledge and industry and on every region of the world he visits.

    There is merit in looking closely at the places where Hugo & co. really put the money that goes with such a bold mouth when somebody is serious.

    It is possible that every budget and program published by a government contain a certain amount of obfuscation about it’s real use and allocation. But the chavista-controlled budget and program seem to be a lot of obfuscation and dissembling. Else they are the ramblings of an hyperactive, short-attention-span group of crackpots.

    Let’s see where he puts the public funds of Venezuelans (that he treats like they were his own personal war chest).

  7. m_astera Says:

    “Chavez has announced that he will not permit any oversight from outside Venezuela for his Nuclear Center.”

    A statement obviously made only to draw attention. Even Iran is a signatory to the IAEA and allows inspections, and they still get slapped with sanctions. The only two nuke powers that don’t allow inspections are Israel and N Korea.

    But I agree with loroferoz, it seems unlikely there will ever be anything to inspect.

  8. Chester Says:

    Jim, RF’s linked document says primarily two things:

    1- The government lies about a drastic reduction in the poverty rate. The lie is in the fact that they use 3 different and incompatible ways to measure poverty. If one were to use the same measurements for poverty before Chavez and during Chavez, that supposedly drastic reduction vanishes.

    2- The employment rates are a lie. The employment rate is calculated by dividing the number of people who are employed or occupied by the total active population. According to the document, the government data falsifies the employment rate by reducing the total active population which causes the employment rate to look higher than it really is. According to the government, there are 1 million LESS people seeking a job today than five years ago, which caused a drastic reduction in the unemployment rate, even though everything else in the economy would suggest a drastic increase in unemployment.

  9. loroferoz Says:

    Said I, abusing W. Shakespeare:

    Much ado about nothing.

    Which might be translated roughly into our vernacular as

    “Mucha bullla y nada de cabulla”

    And still I think that sums it up. To be dismissed.

  10. jim Says:

    rf, my spanish is still a little slow, but in what way are the statistics manipulated?

  11. RF Says:

    the following links makes the accusation that social statistics in Venezuela are manipulated…


    Are there any other serious statisticians or economists looking at this?

  12. Robert Says:

    It seems to be budget by political agenda. What will be more important in the 2012 election? Electricity for the masses or control of the courts? You could draw some very interesting conclusions from the budgetary thought process.

    Of course it could just be the right hand not knowing what the left hand is up to and a boli-ladrones just budgeting funds for stealing, and the TSJ just being the best at this.

  13. bruni Says:

    That shows exactly what are the priorities of the goverment. The TSJ is 75% as important as the whole electric grid infrastructure.

  14. A_Antonio Says:

    “Chavez has announced that he will not permit any oversight from outside Venezuela for his Nuclear Center.” Yeah, He only accepted “tutoría” is from Rusia, China and Iran to built, if some day will be builded it.

    “He, also said that Venezuela have the right to its scientific development and economics grows by the development of the nuclear energy”. Yeah, Venezuela will get this right as soon Chacumbele leaves his Pedestal and step down from power.

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