sexta-feira, 31 de dezembro de 2010

Ending fuel subsidies cuts Bolivia's losses, president says

La Paz, Bolivia (CNN) -- Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday defended his decision to end fuel subsidies, a move that caused gasoline and diesel prices to spike and has led to protests in major cities since it was announced over the weekend.
The country's subsidies led to an artificially low price for diesel and gasoline, which resulted in widespread smuggling of those products to neighboring countries, where smugglers sold it for a profit, Morales told CNN en Español. "There's a tremendous amount of smuggling (to Peru and Brazil) and the state loses".
For example, Bolivia will spend $660 million this year importing fuel, of which $380 million will have been subsidized by the government, he said. Of that, he said, $150 million will have been siphoned out of the country through contraband sales of the gasoline and diesel in neighboring countries, where the price is higher. "For a small country like Bolivia, that's a lot of change," he said.
Morales' remarks came a day after he attempted to explain the move in a nationally televised address.
Though the initial price shock may seem high, the average Bolivian will benefit from the move, he said. Money saved under the new policy will be plowed back into the economy, with 20 percent increases in the minimum wage and spending in education, health, and security, he said. CNN