Chavez declares new tax on oil firms

The Venezuelan president says Caracas will take further steps to increase revenues from its petroleum industry, including a new tax on companies that extract oil in the country.

    Chavez made the announcement on his TV and radio show

    Hugo Chavez, who made the announcement during his weekly television and radio programme on Sunday, said the measure would create $1 billion in new revenue.

    He said details of the new tax would be revealed in coming days.

    "We are going to create a new oil tax, called the tax on extraction," Chavez said. "The companies that are pumping oil in Venezuela are making a lot of money."

    Chavez said Venezuela also plans to raise income taxes from 34% to 50% for oil companies operating along the Orinoco River and boost taxes on natural gas businesses operating in the oil-rich South American country.

    Chavez has accused foreign oil companies of exploiting his country's vast petroleum reserves without paying sufficient taxes and has taken steps to increase revenues from the industry.

    Applause for Morales

    He applauded the decision by Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, to nationalise his country's natural gas industry, a move that has rattled foreign investors and other countries in the region.

    "Hopefully, all Bolivians will understand that this is vital for Bolivia's future, just like what we are doing is vital for the future of Venezuela," Chavez said.

    Last month, Venezuela voided oil-pumping contracts with private companies at 32 fields and replaced them with a mixed-company model that gave state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA a minimum 60% stake, sharply raised royalties and taxes and reduced potential drilling acreage by almost two-thirds.

    The world's fifth largest oil exporter has left foreign oil companies little leeway for negotiating the new contracts.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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