The Minister of Finance Tobías Nóbrega estimates that the current economic growth will keep up until 2006, “since we have been in a medium term cycle for the last three years, in which there has been an important recovery”

“We are going to be in a good situation from the oil market point of view; perhaps not at the current prices, but still at a good level, which will guarantee enough resources for the national treasury as well as for investments in the expansion of the Venezuelan oil industry” he said.

In a TV interview, he explained that the new strategy for Pdvsa (the Venezuelan state owned oil company) is internalization instead of the former internationalization strategy.

He added that public investment has not halted even in these years of serious difficulties, since the Republic made an early allocation of one billion U$ in the first quarter of 2004, exclusively for the financing of programs and projects.

“These resources were programmed to be invested as of the second or third quarter of the year, and are still enough for the following one. We will have an economy with a great lasting drive, that will decrease its inflation index, with interest rates that have dropped amid currency exchange stability” he said.

He recalled allegations back in 1999 over Chavez’ applying currency exchange control, and of his intentions of expropriating a home from those who owned two; accusations that he qualified as publicity terrorism.

For his part, Nelson Merentes, minister for the Development of a Social Economy and president of the Bank of Development(Bandes), said that this institution “is at the service of the poorest and has served over 64,000 in the first semester of the year."

He pointed out that “the bank granted 237 loans in 2002, the portfolio increased to 9,800 loans in 2003, and so far this year we have granted 15,000 loans.”

Published in Quantum No 30.