Letter: Norway manages its oil wealth better than Alberta

Norway’s sharing, caring, more equal way of life provides many social benefits that Canadians can only dream of.

To the editor:

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice has stated the worst is yet to hit his province. He is warning that in two years their $16 billion Heritage Oil Fund, that was started around 1976, could be gone. With Alberta’s bubble burst, there is much to learn from the major petroleum producer Norway.

Norwegians did things right with their oil money. The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund was started around 1990 and to about $800 billion today.

One big difference between Alberta and Norway is that Alberta’s oil industry is privately owned whereas the oil industry in Norway is publicly owned. Under Alberta’s free-market approach the market is allowed to determine the pace and scope of development. However, this is unreliable and unpredictable for the long term.  Whereas, in Norway through government management, the objective is to create the greatest possible values for the Norwegian society from oil now and for future generations.

Under Alberta’s privatized oil industry it is the multinational corporations and foreign shareholders that benefit the most. The fundamental problem is that the Alberta government and federal government should be getting a lot more taxes and fees from the oil companies for the oil. According to one estimate, after generous government subsidies, tax write-offs, and tax loopholes, the Alberta government gets about 10 per cent economic rent from the oil sands and the federal government takes only about eight per cent revenues through corporate income tax. This means the taxpayers are being unfairly forced to subsidize the private oil companies.

Another major reason Norway is operating more efficiently than Alberta and the federal government is because Norwegians have a greater sense of nationalism and being united. They believe that with government and the people working together under public ownership of their resources Norway is a more prosperous country in generating wealth and sharing the wealth among all citizens today and the future.

Norway doesn’t need and doesn’t want private multinational oil companies like Shell, Exxon, BP and Enbridge etc., to run and dominate Norway’s oil industry. Norwegians are trained to manage and run all aspects of their oil industry—much better for Norwegians. Indeed, Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (formerly, Petroroeum Fund) is increasing at the rate of about $1 billion a month.

Norway has one of the highest standards of living in the world under public ownership of its oil. All Norwegians are shareholders and reap direct benefits. They lead carefree lives with many social benefits almost free such as medicare, dental care, Pharmacare, child care and university education etc. Also students from around the world can get free university education in Norway.

Norway’s sharing, caring, more equal way of life provides many social benefits that Canadians can only dream of. So, fellow Canadians, why not follow Norway for a better carefree life?

Robert Cichocki, Kelowna