Venezuela's economy is in massive disarray since international prices of crude oil plunged to $33 per barrel which is the lowest in over 10 years. No less than President Nicolas Maduro admitted that prices have to reach $111 for every barrel to recover costs.
Inflation is increasing because of this scenario and has reached 270 percent, according to a leakage from the country’s central bank. Economic analysts worldwide describe the “hyper inflation” as the worst in the history of Venezuela. It is further aggravated by unlimited printing of currency, inadequate foreign reserves and oil as the only essential product in international trading.
The President was elected in 2013 but served as Vice President for one year prior to his election. He also served in the Cabinet of President Hugo Chavez as foreign affairs minister from 2006 until 2013. Maduro topped the 2013 elections under the United Socialist Party with 50.62 percent of total votes cast. Last December 26 (2015), new parliamentary elections were held in the country for the election of 164 deputies as well as three native representatives. Political adversaries of President Maduro claimed an uncommon victory during the congressional polls last year. The opposition coalition of the Democratic Unity garnered 99 seats. On the other hand, the United Socialist Party of the President only got 46 seats. The political scenery was influenced by the serious economic troubles confronting the country. It was an important victory for the political opposition which gained control of the assembly.
Venezuelan citizens are currently experiencing many hardships. Aside from the floundering economy, there have been power failures, increase in crime rates as well as extravagant spending by the administration. Acts of criminality include murders, kidnappings and brutal robberies in urban centers. The government has prohibited media from making truthful reports. Hence, citizens are unaware of the real situation. The capital of Caracas has been wracked by mass protest actions although many of these were peaceful. Lately, violent confrontations between government troops and protesters led to more than 3,000 arrests and 40 deaths.
Venezuela is the seventh biggest net exporter of crude in 2013. In fact, it obtains approximately 96 percent of the nation’s revenues from this industry. Government’s mismanagement was concealed by high oil profits. These were utilized to support popular social programs initiated by Maduro. Yet, the drop in oil prices adversely affected the economic standing of Venezuela.
What has to be done to stem the tide?
It may be necessary to amend the laws but this will be useless unless legislation is enforced strictly and followed by the people. In other words, the culture has to be changed. Venezuelans need to be educated as to the benefits of following these laws. Internal mechanism must be reinforced further if corruption is rampant. Lawmakers must ratify a sweeping anti-corruption bill. Reforms have to be implemented as far as the Organic Laws of National Public Tax Revenue, General Auditing, Public Administration, Decentralized Public Administration, General Prosecution, and Penal Code are concerned.
Red tape should be curtailed because this is one of the roots of corruption. The executive department must review policies so the citizens can enjoy all their rights. Government also has to accelerate and do away with redundancies in current regulatory measures. The Judicial branch must see to it that justices and tribunals function properly. There must be genuine reforms in the legislative bureau.
Corruption in this country has historic origins. It is time to crack down on the culprits. Competent and accountable institutions must be created right away to enforce flawless management of the public sector. There should be collective punishment for perpetrators of corruption.
Venezuela may be on the brink of collapse. Rioting, military oppression and dishonesty will not rectify these problems. What the nation needs is true leadership that should start from public officials and lawmakers. Otherwise, the country may not be able to recover from this condition.