Good post, but what catches my eye is...
the method I described would be included in the budget passed by the Asamblea, and what you described would not. In other words, it would never be publicized and there would be no oversight. In current practice, there’s no real difference, but I believe in checks and balances.
I can't help but feel that this is the real heart of the issue, and I'm sorry you didn't highlight it more in the main text. As far as I can see, the new law merely formalizes the twin-budget approach that has been in operation for some time, with a kind of "shadow budget" operating in offshore dollar denominated accounts, that is not subject to any kind of parliamentary authorization, oversight, auditing, any controls at all. Now, given the depths of opacity involved, who could possibly believe any official announcement made about how they will spend these funds?
And so, we are forced to speculate about what the money might be used for. The question, for me, is "what would Chavez possibly want to do with a big stash of DOLLARS (NOT Bolivars)?" And my feeling is that a lot of this money will end up being spent outside Venezuela, propping up Evo Morales, Daniel Ortega, the whole panoply of fringy lefty latinamerican leaders Chavez sees as allies in the bolivarian experiment.
Now, one last question: suppose you are an honest, public spirited official in the Contraloria General (no, really, don't laugh, just suppose for a minute) and you want to launch some kind of probe to verify where this money is going... HOW could you possibly do it, supposing for a second Mr. Russian will let you even start down that road without firing you? Even if you wanted to do it, you just COULD NOT, because the money is in dollars, outside the country, where you have no investigative jurisdiction.
So really this is about the final death of that long-suffering, wheezing, dying beast we call the formal budget process in Venezuela, the long-awaited total demise of any Salvaguarda standards, really the death knell of transparency. No?
Perhaps that gringo-chavista economy pundit working for a 'think tank' in Washington can come up with a coherent explanation about "twin-budget approach".