CARACAS, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas
Maduro has drafted legislation to grant his government expanded
powers to confidentially sign new oil deals with private firms
and foreign nations as a way of getting around U.S. sanctions,
according to the proposal and people familiar with the
Maduro delivered the "anti-blockade" bill on Tuesday to the
government-aligned Constituent Assembly, a parallel legislature
he created to bypass the opposition-controlled congress. The
sources said the assembly will pass it into law during its next
The draft legislation, seen by Reuters, allows the
government to modify the "constitution, ownership, management,
and administration" of Venezuela's public and semi-public
companies. With the reform, Maduro is seeking greater investment
in the oil sector, the sources said, speaking anonymously
because they had not been authorized to speak publicly.
All the agreements will initially be secret as the proposal
establishes a "temporary regime of classifying documents."
"It will allow us to use new mechanisms, which we have to do
in silence, to promote foreign investments," oil minister Tareck
El Aissami said on state television.
By giving more control of oil production to private
companies, his government could dodge sanctions focused on
PDVSA, the sources said. The document does not specify what
stake Venezuelan state-run oil firm PDVSA will maintain in its
Years of mismanagement and corruption, along with crippling
sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, have caused the
OPEC nation's oil sector to collapse.
The new bill also opens the door for Maduro to reverse the
nationalization of many Venezuelans firms under the socialist
government of his predecessor Hugo Chavez.
"If nationalization did not generate benefits, we need to
look for ways to avoid having a graveyard of infrastructure,"
Hermann Escarrá, an influential member of the Constituent
Assembly close to Maduro, said in an interview.
(Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and David