Venezuela nationalises utilities


Control for central bank: Among the utilities that may be affected by his call for nationalisation is Electricidad de Caracas, a unit of Alexandria, Virginia-based AES Corp. In his speech Mr Chavez also said he would seek to strip the central bank of independence from the Government as part of a plan to overhaul the constitution. "The central bank shouldn’t be autonomous," Mr Chavez said. "That is one of the biggest mistakes of the constitution."

Profits, factories, farms in sights: Mr Chavez, who last year raised royalties on oil companies and forced some into joint ventures with the state, has stepped up his calls to regulate corporate profits and speed seizure of "under-utilised" farms and factories since his re-election. Mr Chavez’s control of the Congress, courts and state governments will help push through those plans.

Currency restrictions: Mr Chavez imposed restrictions in foreign currency trading in early 2003 to stem an outflow of dollars after a two-month national strike aimed at ousting him cut oil exports and drained international reserves. Venezuelan banks operate under interest rate caps; phone and power rates and rents are also controlled.

The Australian, 10/1/2007, p.17

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