Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | October 6, 2011

10-year $55 billion investment plan for infrastructure

The government of Juan Manuel Santos has passed a ten-year $55 billion dollar investment plan for new infrastructure, according to The Economist. At least half the money is forecast to come from the private sector, mostly from foreign investment.

Roads: A priority is linking Medellín to Pacific and Caribbean ports.

Waterways: The government is consulting with HydroChina, a state-owned Chinese firm, on a project to make the Magdalena River fully navigable.

Railway: Plans for rail from central Colombia to the Caribbean harbour of Santa Marta, for the transport of coal.

But corruption and inefficiency are endemic in Colombia; past contracts have had bad or nonexistent designs and questionable concession deals. Namely, the consortium hired to build the road between Bogotá and Girardot, which was supposed to have been finished last year, included a firm whose three principals are currently in jail on fraud, bribery and other charges.

President Santos spoke at the Council of the Americas in New York on Thursday, September 22, looking to attract more foreign investors. Santos also highlighted the importance of free trade agreements. Watch the video here.

An example of the desperate need of infrastructure: San Vicente del Cagúan in Caqueta department gained fame as the seat of FARC-government negotiations during the era of former President Andres Pastrana. Ten years later, one of the greatest complaints from its residents is that the road between San Vicente and Neiva is mere lush mountains, land-slides, mud, and FARC extortions. It now takes seven hours of travel to get from city to city. If the road was paved, it would only take three hours and legitimate commerce would flourish.

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