Uruguay: Uso De Rentas Petroleras Y Mineras En Uruguay

Last Updated: 23 March 2016
Article by Diego Galante

Muchos políticos o gobernantes pueden frotarse las manos cuando se habla de la renta petrolera o de la renta minera, es decir, de todos los ingresos derivados de explotar recursos naturales a escalas significativas. Ocurre que muchos podrán pensar que es una "plata dulce", que viene de una actividad inexistente hasta hoy, por fuera de los límites del presupuesto y de los impuestos; entonces hay una libre disponibilidad a gusto del gobierno de turno. No cuesta mucho imaginar la tendencia "redistributiva" inmediata, el sueño de cumplir objetivos sociales o económicos que son inviables o insostenibles en situaciones corrientes de la economía.

Las lecciones de la historia sobre el uso de los excedentes que genera la explotación de los recursos naturales en los países, son en general bastante funestas y poco auspiciosas. Desde el descontrol, el populismo y la corrupción, para citar casos actuales como Venezuela, Irán o países africanos, hasta la distorsión grave de las economías por manejos equivocados de sus efectos, como pasó en el conocido caso del "síndrome holandés" (*). En otros casos se han montado planes e inversiones sobre ingresos que dependen de proyecciones de precios internacionales inestables (caso del cobre en Chile).

Claro que disponer de las rentas por estos recursos explotados es altamente ventajoso si se utilizan con inteligencia. Noruega parece demostrar en este campo una forma de gestionar exitosamente sus rentas petroleras. En la eventualidad de tener ingresos por emprendimientos de megaminería y de explotación de hidrocarburos, es el modelo que proponemos analizar y seguir para Uruguay.

Pero antes algo muy breve de nuestra historia.

Uruguay no tiene tradición ninguna de obtener rentas importantes por extracciones de recursos naturales. En realidad, las rentas significativas de los últimos años hubieran sido las que fueron exoneradas a las empresas de pulpa de celulosa. Para nosotros lo cierto es que la verdadera historia de estos recursos es bastante reciente; nunca fueron identificados como actividades viables, posibles y ni siquiera reales. Hace diez años nadie podía imaginar que Uruguay pudiese recibir explotaciones de un porte gigantesco en hidrocarburos y en minerales.

Ambos casos tienen una regulación deficiente en este punto.

En la megaminería nunca hubo ninguna clase de regulación especial hasta que se dictó la ley 19.126 del año 2013. La concepción de la ley fue dividir los ingresos un 30% para gastos corrientes presupuestales y el otro 70% para destinarlo a un Fondo Soberano Intergeneracional que asegurara la "equidad de derechos de generaciones futuras" (expresión positiva pero peligrosa porque no dice realmente en qué se utilizarían los fondos).   Para las actividades de explotación de hidrocarburos la cuestión fue regulada en el Decreto-Ley 14.181 del año 1974 (con alguna modificación posterior de la Ley 16.213), exclusivamente como una fuente de impuestos sobre la renta, por lo que hoy el Estado los recibiría en Rentas Generales y pasarían a engordar los fondos presupuestales para gastos presupuestales.

Claramente las regulaciones son insuficientes o rudimentarias, posiblemente porque no se ha visto la renta minera y la petrolera como una cuestión distinta que mayores ingresos tributarios. Por eso básicamente terminan en la Tesorería del Estado, se utilizan para el gasto público y solo una porción de la renta minera se reservaría para un fondo soberano intergeneracional (sin regulación futura de uso de fondos).

¿Cuál es el modelo noruego?

En la década del ´90 crearon un Fondo Soberano Estatal (Folketrygdfondet) para ingresar allí la totalidad de las rentas que les producía la explotación del petróleo. El Fondo Petrolero se administra como un fondo de pensión a largo plazo, que debe asegurar ingresos financieros sólidos a lo largo del tiempo. La administración y gestión del fondo está a cargo del Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), una entidad estatal, no política, integrada por destacados profesionales y técnicos en manejo de activos. No hay posibilidad de que la renta petrolera se divida para usos diversos a los que administra el Folketrygdfondet. En cualquier caso, para evitar defectos inflacionarios al estilo “holandés”, invierte sus 890.000 millones de dólares en activos ubicados todos en el exterior. Ahora, en el año 2009, se creó un subfondo àra que una porción pequeña se destine al mercado interno noruego para reactivar la economía ante la crisis europea.

El modelo puede ser muy atractivo para un país como Uruguay, necesitado de reforzar el sostenimiento del sistema de pensiones y jubilaciones, las cargas sociales crecientes y las necesidades de infraestructura. También para financiar a largo plazo la reconversión del sector público.

Para concretar un fondo de esta naturaleza se debería asegurar un amplio consenso político sobre los objetivos últimos y la estructura del fondo, así como un mecanismo de gobernanza corporativa y de gestión profesional completamente ajena al ámbito político o a las transiciones de sucesivos gobiernos.

Entendemos que si algo enseña el Fondo Soberano Noruego, que hoy es el más grande del mundo en su tipo, es que las rentas que ingresan no se utilizan sino para generar rentas financieras, y son éstas las que podrán ser luego administradas o destinadas a fines previamente acordados. Cero gasto corriente o complemento de déficits presupuestales.

(*) El "síndorme holandés" ocurrió en la década del ´60, cuando Holanda descubrió petróleo en el Mar del Norte y volcó todos esos ingresos a la economía local, aumentando exponencialmente el valor de la moneda en perjuicio de la competitividad de todas las exportaciones.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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