As a result of the freezing of the rates of the 143 tolls that are in charge of Invías and the National Infrastructure Agency (ANI), the Colombian Chamber of Infrastructure (CCI) consequences that this measure brings for Colombians.
Juan Martín Caicedo, president of the CCI, assured that decreeing the non-increase in tolls on concessioned roads «is reflected in a sudden change in the rules of the game in a long-term business, whose financial backbone is supported by the collection derived from tolls as a source of payment for the investments made on the concessioned infrastructure».
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It will be the Government and all Colombians -including taxes on those who do not travel on the concessioned highways- who will end up responding via
Consequently, it stated that the State will be forced to compensate the projects and deliver, with money from the Contingency Fund and budget, approximately 1 trillion pesos that approximately will stop receiving the concessions during 2023.
In addition, Juan Martín Caicedo affirmed that this measure causes an economic imbalance of the contractssince the actual rates for each year will be less than those provided for in their structuring, since they are not restored.
In the particular case of the so-called IP (Private Initiatives), being projects that are financed exclusively with the collection of tolls, the union leader said that this measure generates the risk that they cannot guarantee their financial sustainability and, as a result of the foregoing, the contracts could be terminated early.
In this case, the State will also have to recognize the investments made and, in addition, it will have to complete the works and manage, operate and maintain the roads.
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The consequences of the decree
Changing the rules of the game creates a climate of legal uncertainty that, for obvious reasons, results in uncertainty
According to the CCI, the concessioned projects are not exempt from facing the economic situation that the country is experiencing. The increases derived from the inflation in the cost of payrolls or increases in the value of inputs, among many other factors.
Thus, not adjusting their toll rates upwards implies the risk of not recognizing the true value of the goods and services required for the construction and administration of the projects. This can generate unemployment and possible breaches with suppliers, by the concessions, according to the union.
«The main consequence for the country, in view of the scope of the decree issued, is that, as of the date, it will be the Government and all Colombians -even those who do not travel on the concessioned highways- who will end up respondingvia taxes, for the money that the projects fail to collect, given that said collection constitutes the source of payment for investments made on the infrastructure,» said the president of the CCI.
Additionally, he stated that to this we must add the fact that «changing the rules of the game creates a climate of legal insecurity which, for obvious reasons, results in uncertainty among those financiers and investors who bet on initiatives of this nature».
The imperative to preserve trust
Juan Martín Caicedo also said that the Government and the sector should avoid the deterioration of trust. «Thanks to her, we have built a successful and strategic alliance (State-concessions) over 30 years, in favor of the development and modernization of the national infrastructure,» he added.
Likewise, he assured that trust could be damaged with the aforementioned financiers and investors (local and international) who have believed in a model that, like that of concessions, has demonstrated -not only in Colombia but throughout the world- its effectiveness.