miércoles, 28 de enero de 2009

Destroying everything in its path

The Chávez administration, like a plague of locusts, is destroying the little (or much) that has been built in the country over the last 50 years of the 20th century.It is already common knowledge that PDVSA, in days gone by a successful, prosperous concern, is now an inefficient, corrupt company that produces less than the half the 5 million barrels a day that were its goal for 2006.Today, Venezuela imports gasoline, as it does not produce sufficient to meet domestic demand. Today, the state-owned oil company has gone from being a model of industrial safety to a company that poses a hazard for its workers. Example of this is the fire that broke out at Cardón Refinery on Sunday, leaving seven people injured. And, as happens in every company in the hands of the government, the political is given precedence over efficiency, technical considerations, and production.Possibly less well known is the profound state of deterioration into which the industries of Guayana –whose development was conceived 70 years ago as the future industrial heart of the country, Venezuela’s Ruhr- is now plunged.Venezuelans still have not understood how serious the situation is in this part of the country. Apparently, at the moment, not a single company in the region is making a profit, is competitive or is, at least, halfway producing free of corruption and labor conflicts.There is the case of Siderúrgica del Orinoco (SIDOR), for example. Six months ago, when it was in private hands, the company was making investments and producing a profit. Today, in hands of the government, it is posting large losses, affecting not only the public purse but also the 15,000 plus class B shareholders, most of them SIDOR workers and former workers who invested their savings in the company.Equally lamentable is the situation of the aluminum companies, Venalum and Alcasa, which closed 2008 with heavy losses despite record aluminum prices. Today, like PDVSA, they are being eating away by inefficiency and corruption, besides being hit by profound labor conflicts.As for Electrificació n del Caroní, Edelca, it is also in frank decline. Experts maintain that, while the failures in the electricity supply so far have been due to problems in transmission, it will not be long before there is a blackout attributable to failures in generation.The response to this problem offered by the president of Corporación Venezolana de Guayana, Rodolfo Sanz, is that $4 billion would suffice to achieve the recovery of the industry. Anyone with a moderate understanding of the matter knows that much more than these few billion are needed; to whit, managers and transparency. Without these ingredients, Venezuelans will end up asking themselves, how come so many billions of dollars were invested just to end up with a pile of scrap?

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