Archive for May 1st, 2013

Trying To Nail The Productive Sector Under Madurismo

May 1, 2013


We have had “new” Ministers for ten days, but very few announcements of new programs and policies. This is due in part to the repetitiousness of names in the Cabinet, most of which have already been there and have no new ideas. Others are simply not very qualified, as their expertise, if they have any, is seldom in the Ministry they hold.

One of the lone exceptions is Minister for Electric Energy Jesse Chacon who has made daily announcements about plans, programs and ideas. Chacon is not that qualified for the position, his expertise is in telecom, but he has been around and held a half a dozen positions, most of them Ministries, where he has learned how slow things move in Government and how things only move from the top. He showed that when he was Minister of the Interior and Justice, where he tried to understand the security problem, brought advisers from abroad (Even from the US! Fin de Mundo!) and was removed by Chavez when he had begun to formulate plans and understand things.

In his new Ministry, Chacon has been candid at times. He does not blame the power problems on opposition sabotage, a laughable position when power plants have been militarized since 2006 and those not loyal to the revolution were fired (and are still being fired) in various purges from important positions.

He has told us that the main problem is how the twelve companies that were integrated into Corpoelec don’t work together (Some have been “integrated” for ten years!) Well, this is a blunt criticism of Chavez’ brother Argenis, who learned of the appointment of his new boss watching TV and resigned immediately. He has also said projects are delayed, consumption is high and rates are behind. (Behind? Last rate increase was in 2000, the CPI is up about 900% since then. So behind is a mild word)

But so far, he has said little about specific projects, other than increase rates and force people to buy energy saving lightbulbs (At 4 times the price) He also gave himself an ultimatum of 100 days. Good luck!

But Chacon has also been less than honest in what he has said. He said that Caracas’ power is unstable because when AES took over Electricidad de Caracas (EDC), it stopped investing. What he fails to say is that AES owned EDC for only seven years, the Government nationalized and ran it for almost that same amount of time. EDC was taken over by AES in July 2000, Chavez took it over in April 2007, so it has been six years, not much of a difference. What did the Ch├ívez Government invest in six years? Zilch. And the company now loses money. Way to go!

He also fails to say that at a time that Venezuela has power problems, the IDB (Interamerican Development Bank) has yet to disburse the US$ 700 million approved in 2010 for Guri and other power plants. Why? Venezuela has not complied with the requirements yet. The money is there, earmarked, approved, ready to go, but…

Chavista management…the biggest oxymoronic concept in Venezuela.

But Chacon is definitely better than Chave’z son in law Jorge Arreaza. He said the other day something like: ” We are trying to deal with the mess in the (State) productive sector. The State has yet to figure out (nail) how to leverage some industries”

Well Jorge, it’s very easy, you need people who know what they are doing, work hard and know what management is all about. Let me give you an example: Remember the satellite you purchased from the Chinese? The one bought to survey the country and called VRSS? When you made all the noise and it went into operation in Chinese hands, you yourself said that in three months it would no longer be in Chinese hands, but would be operated by Venezuela.

But shucks, you remembered to pay US$ 170 million for the satellite four years ago (easy money that could have been used in sooo many productive things!!!), but you forgot that to control the satellite from Venezuela, you had to install the antennas to control the satellite and to receive the images. The result is that the satellite “sees” Venezuela a few times a day, but its useless. Besides the pictures you asked the Chinese to take for show, the return has been exactly zero. (To say nothing of the fact that with US$ 170 million you can buy all of the images of Venezuela of France’s SPOT satellite since of all its satellites were launched and in all frequencies available, but that is another matter)

And you call this “technology”…I call it turnkey waste.

The problem is that to “figure out” or “nail” the productive sector, you need people that know the business, you need planners and you need managers. When the criteria for hiring people are political, nepotistic or cronyism, things can’t work.

You also have to care, understand what is wasting time or money, plan every day, have the know-how. All your Marxist ideas don’t work, because you are trying to adapt an ideology to the wrong type of people, led by the wrong leaders. Yes, you also need leadership. Like you screwed up in the satellite project, if you had not been your father in law’s son in law, you would have been fired.

But Maduro promoted you to Vice-President.

Think about it and you will figure it out Jorge, but you will not nail it!