CARACAS – President Hugo Chavez said Monday that the drop in oil prices will not affect government plans for Venezuelan development.
“The government guarantees the Venezuelan people all the funds necessary for the rest of the year and for promoting the nation’s scientific-technological development through 2013,” Chavez said at a military event aired on radio and television.
Venezuela’s 2012 budget, which calls for spending $69.26 billion, assumes a median price for oil of $50 a barrel and that the Andean nation will produce an average of 3.1 million barrels per day.
Last Friday, Venezuelan oil was trading at $90.09 a barrel, down from $92.06 the previous week and $115 in March.
Chavez said there are “several reasons” for the drop in oil prices, and among them mentioned overproduction and the economic weakness of Europe and the United States.
“Some countries are producing much more than the quotas assigned by OPEC,” Chavez said.
He expected development plans to go forward “thanks to our savings” and to the funds and independent measures adopted, and slammed “mouthpieces of the bourgeoisie” for being thrilled about declining oil prices, the country’s chief source of foreign currency and investment funds.
“They think the government will be affected by all that and will start making excuses. Not long ago they said ‘Chavez is finished because petroleum dropped below $90,’” the president said.
Finance Minister Jorge Giordani recently acknowledged that the fall in oil prices could affect the growth of Venezuela’s economy, but guaranteed that social investment will not be cut as a result.
According to central bank figures, Venezuela’s gross domestic product, or GDP, grew a better-than-expected 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2012.
Venezuela possesses the largest certified oil reserves in the world with around 297 billion barrels. EFE