Archive for August 10th, 2011

The Fonden Papers-Chapter I

August 10, 2011

You all know about Fonden, the “development” Fund that Chavez created and uses as his sort of petty cash fund for immediate needs. I was reading something or other the other day and found that Deputy Carlos Ramos had sent Minister Giordani a questionnaire about Fonden.

Naive that I am, I looked up this Deputy who I don’t know, and lo and behold, I found out he is an Economist, has a masters in Political Science, has been a Deputy before and has been budget Director of Merida State and General Manager of the Alcaldia Libertador. Better yet, he even has a webpage.

Naive that I am, I believe in democracy, open information and stuff like that, I got Deputy’s Ramos’ email from his website and wrote to him telling him I am interested in Fonden, saw his press conference and was wondering if he could send me the material he talked about, promising I would let him know if I found anything interesting. (And that I would write about it in my blog, of course)

Within a couple of hours, I had a response and a promise that the material would be sent to me. The next day, his Assistant sent me all but the Minister’s response, which I am promised would be sent soon.

I really haven’t found anything earth shaking yet. Certainly nothing as significant as the US$ 29 billion discrepancy between what the fund has assigned to projects and what has been disbursed to 140 projects, but the Fund certainly does not have such a large amount of money today. That’s Chavista math for you, a US$ 29 billion discrepancy.

So, as I await for Giordani’s response on this “small” US$ 29 billion discrepancy, I find that 12% of the development investments have gone to Defense, essentially buying weapons, 11.6% to projects of the IXth. “Mixed Cuban-Venezuelan Commission”, 19% in PDVSA projects* and half a billion Bolivars to Bandes projects and drinkable water around the Nation.

Now, I really don’t know, or understand, what that “mixed” Cuban-Venezuelan Commission has to do with Venezuelan Development, or why there is this circular relationship in which PDVSA gives money to Fonden and then part of it gets sent back to PDVSA for unnamed projects. It sounds to me as illogical as most things Chavismo does.

To say nothing of fancy weapons being part of “development”, but I guess you have to keep the military happy and satisfied with new toys like Russian Jet fighters (US$ 2.5 billion) or a bunch of helicopters (Only US$ 483 million).

But the juicy story seems to be in the “missing” US$ 29 billion, equal to the country’s international reserves, for which I will have to wait for the Minister’s response and hope there is a Chapter II to this story.

And, of course, thanks Deputy Ramos!