Q&A: Chilean presidential candidate Franco Parisi
Published On: Sun, Sep 1st, 2013
Former economics professor and TV personality Franco Parisi will be one of a handful of candidates looking to make history in Chile’s presidential elections this November.
The first poll of this campaign may have sounded alarm bells for the governing conservative coalition, but it also opened the possibility for a candidate from outside the country’s two established political pacts — the Alianza and the Concertación — to make the second round.
Parisi, a center-right candidate with a populist bent, could well positioned to absorb votes lost from the Alianza.
Running on a platform which emphasizes redistribution of wealth, tax reform and economic regulation, Parisi has cast himself as an iconoclast in the Chilean political arena, lambasting the political class for its commitment to special interests.
Some of Parisi’s proposals include free education at the undergraduate level, improved supervision of private healthcare institutions, the increased use of alternative energy sources, income tax reform for and regulation of the copper industry.
Parisi’s headquarters is a two story house east of downtown Santiago, where he spoke to The Santiago Times wearing a leather jacket and a t-shirt.
To say that they are independent candidates is ridiculous. They are political animals. They always have been, and people view them as such. Therefore, I think that people are too intelligent to allow for them to characterize themselves in that way, because they aren’t. They are political animals.
In terms of your social and economic policies, how do you differ from those candidates?
The thing is that we are telling the truth. We really know how to control and improve distribution of income. MEO wants to place a tax on those who possess more the US$1 million worth of stock. Two points: if a person has US$1 million in stocks, [those stocks can be] transferred to a business, so they won’t have to pay the tax. That is not understanding how distribution policies are made in Chile.
What you have to do is charge a tax for millionaires in function of estimated income, what’s called presumed income, which already exists. It is applied to taxi drivers and farmers. If I am president, we are going apply a tax on wealth according to permanent income.
The other tax MEO proposes has zero effectiveness. It shows he doesn’t know how to make distribution policies in a country like Chile. Second: Marcel Claude wants to nationalize the copper industry. There is not enough money for that … it would be impossible to pay for.
We say first get rid of Law Decree 600 [which fixes taxes on foreign investment]. Second, we are going to charge the fuel taxes which the mines don’t pay. Third, we are going to charge for the use of water. If you don’t have water, you can’t operate a mine. But in Chile, the mining industry doesn’t pay for water it uses. I am going to charge them for it. That’s the difference.
The agricultural sector, is charged for using water to produce vegetables. So, what kind of country do you want? One where the mining industry is taking all the wealth of the country without paying for the water it uses and you charge for water in the agricultural industry?
I believe that you have to charge both.
How do you plan to advance to the second round of voting for the election in November? What is your strategy?
The strategy is the same one that we have been using for a long time. We tell the truth. We don’t lie. Politicians are used to twisting the truth with small print. We tell things like they are.
If [Concertación candidate Michelle] Bachelet wins, buy stock in Antofagasta Minerals … Buy stock in Banco de Chile. If you’re going to vote for [Alianza candidate Evelyn] Matthei, then buy stock in SOQUIMICH [Chemical and Mineral Society] buy stock in COPEC [a Chilean energy and forestry company]. Because they are being financed by those economic groups, and MEO also receives support from business owners.
The concept of government is that we have to improve the distribution of power, of wealth and of opportunity. In Chile, it’s not just wealth that’s concentrated, but also power and opportunity. It’s always the same. And that’s going to be the guiding factor. We are going to have a government that’s based around distribution.
You already have experience with the copper industry after working on the Chilean Copper Commission. What changes need to made in that economic area?
First, eliminate Law Decree 600. Second, charge for water. Third, implement true supervision through Sernageomin [Chilean National Geology and Mineral Service]. Sernageomin has 16 inspectors. We have to raise that to at least 800 so that we know exactly what kinds of minerals are being taken and at what amount. In reality, there isn’t supervision. And this lack of supervision has made it so that there is a kind of free-for-all for the mining industries.