Chavez Reiterates Need for New Oil Tax

In his weekly television address, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez reiterated March 24 the importance for Venezuela to impose a new oil tax on foreign oil companies based on "unexpected earnings."

Though the tax rate has yet to be determined, the Venezuelan government has outlined the tax plan in a bill.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own new tax increase on big oil companies, approving $18 billion in new taxes on the tail-end of record oil and gas prices.

This proposal constitutes the fourth increase in taxes on foreign oil companies. Some reports indicate this as an attempt by Chavez's to gain more funding for the country from the oil and gas assets within the country's borders.

"They're earning money that they haven't accounted for," Chavez said in the televised speech. "Those large additional earnings aren't a product of an extraordinary effort … It isn't that they've invested more."

It was a conversation with the 2001 Nobel Prize winner for economics, Joseph Stiglitz, that gave the tax-hike idea to Chavez, according to the Venezuelan president.

Those who are going to criticize me, well, criticize me," Chavez said, "but they'll be criticizing the Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz."

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