Thursday, July 03, 2003

The Clause

As of this date, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela agrees not increase its current level of public debt, nor to contract public debt with payment due in less than ten years. In the case of failure to comply with the above, all current public loans will be considered due and payable immediately. In order to guarantee that any future government does not employ subterfuge to evade the spirit of this Law, the Nation agrees to abide by international arbitrage.” …Just this simple clause, typical of the those applied in the private sector to control corporate debt levels, would enable, as if by magic:

An immediate and dramatic drop in the interest rates applied to the country, when international markets realize that the country, with its relatively modest debt, is determined to put an end to the distortion of short-term debt, the refinancing of which has been the eternal reason for charging high rates, while at the same time guaranteeing that the resulting relief in servicing the debt is not used as a pretext for increasing it. 

The end of the country risk financial rating, when after only a few days credit raters will have to classify Venezuelan public debt as worthy of investment.

Opening the economy to all kinds of private initiatives on the part of individuals, families, companies and cooperatives, since all would have access to new loans under reasonable conditions – something which to date has been blocked by our political leaders’ hunger for tax income and the consequent increase in debt.

Friends, I am sure the clause I propose would help put our country on the road to sustainable economic development but - I swear! - how difficult it is to convince our leaders of the past and present who blithely condemn old debt while at the same time extolling the virtues of new debt.

It sounds easy but... could it be done? Indeed it could! The hard part will be to free ourselves of loans traffickers and to ensure that our eternal paradigm changes actually change – even if only one little paradigm. 

Some may rightly say that the country would lose part of its independence. However, it would be well worth it if this would allow us to decree an abolition of public debt slavery, the same way we abolished slave labor long ago. 

Translated from El Universal, Caracas, July 3, 2003