Know the scope and viability that companies such as Ecopetrol have seen, to contribute to the development of communities affected by the conflict.
Only 11 months ago, on November 22, 2017, the National Government decreed Works for Taxes, a mechanism planned to increase and encourage the participation of the private sector in the social development of the regions most affected by the armed conflict. As a stimulus, the participating companies are given the possibility of paying part of their taxes (up to 50%) through the execution of high-impact projects.
The program focuses on 344 municipalities nationwide, called ZOMAC (areas most affected by the conflict), which have a number of characteristics, such as high vulnerability rates, health needs, education and infrastructure, among others, where It requires investments that contribute to improving the quality of life of the communities.
As part of the environment strategy, Ecopetrol bets on closing gaps in these regions, with the purpose of contributing to peace and promoting investments that contribute to the development of areas historically affected by violence. Therefore, since they learned about the initiative, they showed interest in participating and being pioneers in its implementation.
Francisco Noguera, Manager of Social Prosperity in the Vice Presidency of Sustainable Development of Ecopetrol, says that Works for Taxes is interesting for the company since it allows to achieve a positive impact in places where they are not necessarily operating, and where they want to contribute to development goals.
A first criterion for deciding on the participation of Ecopetrol was to review the municipalities prioritized by the government. The company identified 130 municipalities that coincided with a current operation or future expectations of both the company and the business group. As a second aspect, the existence of duly structured projects was contemplated. According to Noguera, “this mechanism is demanding in terms of technical and financial structuring levels. Any project to be carried out must be approved by the corresponding Ministry and comply with standards required by the National Planning Department. ”
In addition to the selection of projects, Works for Taxes provides specific methods for the execution of the initiatives. In particular, the decree establishes the implementation of a fiduciary mechanism, for the execution and supervision of the works. “Works for Taxes is innovative in terms of execution vehicles. We have even evaluated appropriating some of those lessons to positively impact some of the company’s own programs, ”said Noguera.
Each year the National Government will set a quota for companies to use the Works for Taxes mechanism. In the first year of application, the quota assigned was $ 250,000 million pesos, and Ecopetrol approved applications for an amount of $ 95,000 million. Thus, part of the tax obligation of said company will materialize with the works executed.
The works to be carried out by Ecopetrol
Being the company with the highest number of approved projects full of satisfaction to Ecopetrol. In total, there are seven initiatives focused mainly on two sectors: roads and school supplies. “We are going to provide schools in the department of Nariño, in the municipalities of Tumaco and Barbacoas. We will also build five roads in Meta, Arauca, Putumayo, Caquetá and Cesar, ”says Noguera.
Convinced of the benefits and potential of Works for Taxes as a way of synergy between the purposes of the State and the interests of the private sector to continue growing in a favorable environment for its activities, Francisco Noguera concludes by extending an invitation to companies to participate of this novel proposal.
“Let’s join in the purpose of analyzing lessons learned and maximizing the impact of these mechanisms. We have an opportunity to promote collective and articulated action of companies, to build conditions of prosperity in the territories where we operate ”.