IMF: Showing Venezuela a Yellow Card on Transparency

Venezuelans are supposed to have a Constitutional right to information, and if our own institutions won’t make good on it, maybe our friends on 19th Street can help.

Let’s be crystal clear about one thing: when a government hides official data it’s meant to publish, it violates your rights. I know we’re not used to discussing it in those terms. I know we’ve gotten so used to opacity it feels like a waste of time to bang on this drum. But your rights don’t stop being so because they’ve been violated; they’re still your rights, and those who breach them should be held accountable.

It won’t happen at home. The Supreme Court is as reliable as a dog babysitting sausages, so it’s about freakin’ time the international community said (and did) something.

Reuters just reported:


But could it happen in Washington?

Maybe. According to Article VIII, Section 5, International Monetary Fund (IMF) members must provide information “necessary for the Fund to discharge its duties effectively,” such as:

  • Reserve, or base money;
  • Broad money;
  • Interest rates, both market-based and official, including discount rates, money market rates, treasury bills rates, notes and bonds;
  • Revenue, expenditure, balance and composition of financing (foreign financing and domestic bank and nonbank financ­ing);
  • The stocks of central government and central government-guaranteed debt, including currency and maturity composition and, if the debt data are amenable to classification on the basis of the residency or non residency of the holder, the extent to which the debt is held by residents or nonresidents;
  • Balance sheet of the Central Bank;
  • External current account balance;
  • Exports and imports of goods and services;
  • International reserve assets for monetary authorities, specifying any reserve assets pledged or otherwise encumbered, reserve liabilities, short-term liabilities linked to a foreign currency but settled by other means, and the notional values of financial derivatives to pay and to receive foreign currency (including those linked to a foreign currency but settled by other means);
  • Gross domestic product (GDP), or gross national product (GNP);
  • Consumer price index (CPI);
  • Gross external debt and;
  • Consolidated balance sheet of the banking system.

Venezuela’s Central Bank (BCV) and the National Institute of Statistics (INE) have a rather long list of overdue data. For example, the last official available inflation and GDP numbers were published in December 2015.

The IMF has censured governments in the past for this kind of misbehavior.

On February 1st,  2013, the IMF issued a motion of censure against Argentina because the country didn’t implement enough measures to address the quality of official data reported for the Consumer Price Index for Greater Buenos Aires (CPI-GBA), and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The censure was lifted on November 9th, 2016.

Maduro and his cronies will most likely say that this potential declaration of censure is yet another attack from la derecha imperial, part of the guerra económica. It doesn’t matter. Our rights are our rights — and we have a right to this data, and any heat the government gets for obstructing it is welcome.

We don’t have many hopes for the BCV or INE to catch up on all they owe us. Until they face actual costs for hiding it, there’s no prospect for change.