30 Dic YPFB (Bolivian oil state company) or the death road
Last weekend I visited the famous «Camino de la Muerte» (Death Road) in Bolivia, specifically in the region «Yungas». For friends from other countries, let me tell you that this route was named like this because many years ago, was a «high traffic» road, where many accidents caused the deaths of tens of thousands (yes , tens of thousands) of people. Over time, the Government built a new road and now this route is reserved for bike rides… which are still dangerous, in fact, already in their new role of «bicycle route» has still (unfortunately) several accidents.
On this particular visit I heard a sad story . The inhabitants (community members) who live around the «Death Road» decided to charge a toll to the bikers, before get angry, let me tell you that with this toll they bought shovels, dump trucks and took the boys to school… say, they tried to do things right (at least, that’s what they told me). The issue is that the «larger» municipality (Coroico) decided that these goods should be transferred to them, that is, they took from the community members the few things they bought.
In this story I would like to carry out a mental exercise with you. The «Road of Death» suddenly became a source of resources for the region. Tolls of US$ 1 for nationals and US$ 7 for foreigners tell us about a perfect understanding of market laws and the appropriation of demand surplus (for my Microeconomics students). In this context, assume that the larger municipality, Coroico, decides to give them more autonomy and «leaves» the community to manage their own resources… Reasonable? Completely. Who knows better than the community members the needs of the route and the necessary care.
Time passes and the larger municipality, Coroico, sees that communitarians (do not forget, it’s a hypothetical exercise) incur acts of corruption and the robbery of public resources is a constant. So, Coroico (the largest municipality) decides to approve a law through which «someone» of said large municipality «monitors» the resources of the community… the solution for the disaster. In an effort to avoid corruption, the communitarians were deprived of the possibility of being independent. How can it affect it? Well, that in the future the delegate of the big municipality decides the fate of the community.
Why I tell you this story? It turns out that while Bolivia is discussing a bloody assault in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in Congress… pardon The Assembly, discusses a law that gives the chairmanship of YPFB’s board to the Minister of Hydrocarbons. What what what? That, using our previous example, the law gives to the head of the municipality great control over the resources of the small comuity. The Bolivian government, in an effort to show that it controls the corruption of the state oil company, appoints the Minister of Hydrocarbons as chairman of the board. Why is this bad? Because while it tries to stop corruption, eliminates the independence of the state oil company… the political-party interference in the company now has the doors open. As I said «the solution for the disaster».
While Bolivians are discussing the sad death of several people in Santa Cruz de la Sierra (which is completely valid) Congress … pardon The Assembly discusses our future.
Mauricio Medinaceli Monrroy
Cochabamba, July 14, 2017