Colombia
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Water cos not taking advantage of tax breaks

Bnamericas Published: Monday, July 18, 2005
Colombia's water and sewerage companies have made infrequent use of the incentives approved in the 2003 tax reform designed to encourage investment in regional firms, President Álvaro Uribe announced. Although the tax breaks were approved in 2003 for water and sewerage firms investing outside capital Bogotá, Uribe said that the only investments that he knew of were those made by Triple A de Barranquilla in municipalities including Soledad, Santo Tomás, Sabanagrande and Sabanalarga. The tax stimuli have had no takers in Cundinamarca or Urabá, where it was hoped that Empresa de Acueducto de Bogotá and Empresas Públicas Municipales (EPM) would use them, state news agency SNE reported. The environment ministry's potable water director, Leyla Rojas, said that the water companies had expressed in a meeting that they were unsure of how to apply the tax breaks for regional water utilities. As a result, the ministry gave the firms special instructions on how to do this. Referring to investments in aqueducts in the country, Uribe said that there have not been positive results. "There is enormous concern. This year national government transfers to states and municipalities are estimated at 900bn pesos [US$388mn]," the president said. Next year the government will channel 365bn pesos to water and sewerage, funding 350 projects in 250 municipalities around the country, said environment minister, Sandra Suárez.

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