The Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy provided a year-end summary, highlighting some of the records achieved in 2012. From a MinMinas press release, selected, translated and with commentary by Hydrocarbons Colombia.
On the evening of December 19th, the Colombian Congress passed a comprehensive tax reform. It is intended to be revenue neutral – neither increase nor decrease government revenues – although this is always a theoretical calculation. The intention was to reduce inequality by lowering taxes on the middle class through raising the threshold below which individuals do not pay income tax. This was compensated by raising taxes rates above the threshold and by slightly higher corporate taxes (1% higher). However the hydrocarbons industry dodged several bullets aimed by at it by congressman Simon Gaviria.
Caracol Radio reports that in the sector’s “Rendering of Accounts”, Minminas Federico Renjifo referred to 2012’s oil production delays. According to Renjifo: “Although there have been days we’ve been above 980,000 barrels and production for over a million barrels is achievable, sometimes we have had problems in pipelines, we have had licensing issues, but the number of barrels produced surpass 980,000 barrels on some days”.
Monday December 10, 2012 was the regular “Rendering of Accounts” for the Ministry of Mines and Energy. These sessions are important for the public to understand what has been accomplished and they provide an opportunity for feedback and questions. Unfortunately we struggled to stay awake because MinMinas had virtually nothing new to say about the sector that had not been said at the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) “Rendering of Accounts” session on November 30. We were disappointed.
It was telling that MinMinas reported that President Juan Manuel Santos announced a plan to boost the Putumayo department development. The department is one of the poorest and yet is the focus of much oil exploration and production. The projects initiated or ongoing have to do with issues of energy, roads, health, education, land titling and victims’ restitution. According to Santos, the government will set a special price for gasoline in this border department and there will be permanent electricity in Puerto Asis.
National business magazine Dinero has finally recognized the challenges facing the industry. The article points out that while the oil industry is one of the strongest in the country, there has been no major oil discovery recently, terrorist attacks on pipelines continue, there are delays with the environmental licensing (as we recently reported) and strikes and shut-ins in the oil fields.
The NGO Transparency International released its Corruption Perceptions Index 2012. The index scores countries on a scale from 0 to 100 where a 0 score indicates that a country is very corrupt and a 100 score indicates that it is very clean. None of the 176 countries included in the index got a perfect score.The graph here shows the ranking of all the countries in the study with lower ranked being better.
Last Friday, November 30, 2012 the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) presented its “Rendering of Accounts”, a kind of public performance review in which citizens are invited to listen and openly question and criticize if they wish. The session lasted about four hours and covered a wide range of the agency’s activities. Hydrocarbons Colombia was there and we noted the following items (with our commentary).
MinHacienda Mauricio Cardenas announced that the government intends to introduce three amendments to royalty budget management. The budget for the next two years totals CoP$17.7 billion (US$9.7B). The changes are designed to tighten control on projects even further and to make royalty funding available to the central government for capital projects. The changes do not address community frustration over the changes to the system already introduced this year. We comment on the changes and the royalty system in general.
National newspaper El Espectador reports that a delegation from the IACHR is in Colombia to analyze the situation of human rights in the country. This visit, which is by invitation of Colombia, can be seen as a test of the will of the Colombian State to cooperate with the Commission in monitoring human rights in the region. It is also a step forward for Colombia on its way to get off the blacklist of the Commission.