9,621,334,845.49 vs. 314

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Carlos Ramos, Unsung Hero

Nine billion

Six-hundred and twenty-one million

Three hundred and thirty four thousand

Eight-hundred and forty five dollars

and forty-nine cents.

That, according to new revelations from Mérida National Assembly member Carlos Ramos, is how many US dollars Fonden spent last year.

Off budget, with no parliamentary authorization, no oversight, no auditing. Nothing.

Three hundred and fourteen.

That’s the article in Venezuela’s constitution explicitly forbidding spending that is not approved by the National Assembly.

Let’s be clear: Miguel Octavio’s scoop on Fonden spending – with a big assist from assembly-man Ramos –  is a big deal.

It’s still developing. It’s far from fully fleshed out. And the mainstream media hasn’t caught on at all yet.

Congressman Ramos culled the figures from the a report made by Finance Minister Jorge Giordani – on paper, no electronic version available – directly to the National Assembly’s chairman, Fernando Soto Rojas.

They’re the first specific, official figures on the government’s Black Budget I’ve seen yet. And I’ve been looking for these for years.

The report, stunningly, contains a $29 billion tabulation error in accounting for all Fonden spending since its inception – the sum reported for Fonden’s total spending is $29 billion lower than the sum of the spending for projects Fonden claims to have funded. So we’re still dealing with hapless chavista math on a pretty basic level. Still and all, screwed up as it is, this is the closest I’ve seen anyone get to an official report on how much Fonden spends.

And it’s a lot.

Even figured at the (laughable) official rate, the figures Giordani unwittingly put in the public sphere show that almost 18% of government’s spending in 2010 flew in the face of the constitution’s Article 314. And if you go by the more realistic black market rate, you have to face up to the fact that over a third of government spending is just out-and-out unconstitutional. These are not small numbers.

I’ll have a lot more to say on these figures in days to come. For now, though, I’ll just note that this is Exhibit A for why it’s so important to have an active oppo bench in the National Assembly. A single, relatively obscure congressman was able to get hold of figures the rest of us have been scrounging around looking for for many years.

It’s the kind of thing that almost, almost, makes me hopeful.

1 COMMENT

  1. So? CAP was also caught spending out of article 314! 😛

    Seriously, 10 billion, that’s around $1 per Venezuelan per day for a year. sigh.

  2. Agreed that this finding is, in the quiet words of US VP Biden a BFD: Big F****** Deal.

    Congratulations to Diputado Carlos Ramos for actually doing the job he was elected to do. My tip of the hat to him.

    “9,621,334,845.49 $. Donde estan los reales?”

    That’s something that must be put in a bumper-sticker.

  3. The story is developing. I talked to Ramos’s staff yesterday and they’re far from through with this investigation.

    The small matter of a $29 billion discrepancy in the tabulation is the kind of Monty Pythonesque twist only chavismo could provide – they’re sums of Fonden’s total-spending since inception are off by merely…AN ENTIRE YEAR’S PUBLIC SPENDING BUDGET!

    😮

    • $29 billion…could be just a “rounding error.” Did they outsource the accounting to moonlighting CNE officials?

      I remember when FONDEN had just a couple billion a year, and even then it seemed like a pretty big deal to me. (And I also remember when Chavez wanted just a “millardito.” Those were the days.)

    • Not to mention it’s a $29 billion REGRESSIVE spending because it takes a much greater percentage away from the poor than from the rich.

  4. it would be wise to keep an eye not only on the case, but on all the people working on it, and possible contributors. Let’s hope there are no -exploding cars- or “burglars” robbing “someone’s” house and killing everybody inside as well, forgetting to take the goods.

      • well that changes things. I don’t think they “leaked” that out of pure sloppiness.
        Maybe it’s not THAT important to them. But still, it IS a big deal, or at least CAN BE.

        Let’s hope it doesn’t get buried with the dumpsters,food and the suitcase.

  5. I’ll hold my breath until so called mainstream media covers this story!

    …and then wait for an action from the defensoria or contraloria or even the asamblea to deal with responsabilities and punishements ok!

  6. Me too Luis, but in the end we can achieve these goals in that same order:

    1) We will understand the problem, at least in terms of numbers. We can quantify it, analyze it, reach conclusions.

    2) We will leave a permanent record of what is going on. How can a US$ 69 billion fund run with a President (Gioradni) and a Secretary general?

    3) If something happens we will get them!

    Better than nothing!

  7. Miguel, I understand the objective. It is a laudable one. I support it!

    however, i am so disillussioned with the whole,”…tender puentes de oro a la reconciliacion …” thing.
    The incumbents are offered amnisty from their latrocinio, so that the new group can get a chance at the coroto… No justice, no punishment, no precedent, no learning…

    That is all. Seen the movie before…
    To you, Quico, Juan, Gustavo, Alek, and many, many others kudos! as you say, better than nothing!
    LuisF

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