Kill the goose that lays the golden eggs?

Author: Ing. Carlos Alberto Leal Niño.
President: ACIPET Board of Directors.

To recover the fiscal order in the context of the economic and social emergency, the National Government promulgated Decree 811 of 2020, which “dictates measures related to the investment and alienation of the State’s shareholding.” From different sectors, pronouncements have been issued regarding the inconvenience that the Executive has tools to dispose of the sale of part or all of the shareholding in private, public or mixed companies.

And special concern causes the actions that can be taken with some “crown jewels” such as Ecopetrol, Cenit and ISA, whose disposals could mean up to 2.9% of GDP. If the Executive continues with the plan to offer 11% of ISA, it would obtain almost $ 10.6 billion, and for 8% of Ecopetrol, whose process is already authorized, more than $ 7.6 billion would enter the coffers of the Nation, which which means that with a sale of around 20% of these companies, the country would enter just over $ 18 billion, money that would go to spending.

But as a consequence of the sale, 20% of the dividends generated by these companies would not be received; In the case of Ecopetrol, for the year 2020 the dividends are estimated at 9.6 trillion pesos, which would stop receiving approximately 768 billion pesos from the sale of 8%. This in a single year.

Undoubtedly, the country’s economic situation is very complex, the National Government in the presentation of the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework reported that the deficit is expected to go from -8.2% in 2020 to -5.1% in the 2021 and -2.5% in 2022. Experts consider that Colombia’s GDP will increase less than 3% in 2021, because the economic recovery will take longer than expected. And to adjust to these fiscal accounts, not very popular actions must be taken, which would include, among others, a tax reform, adjustment of the fiscal rule and the hated disposals.

The Ministry of Finance has not yet indicated what the disposals could be carried out, but it has a wide margin if it is taken into account that the Nation has participation in 105 companies, with a value greater than $ 170 billion.

The voices that justify selling Ecopetrol’s participation argue for reasons that are fallacious, such as the end of the fossil energy era, when for half of this century, the global demand for hydrocarbons will still be around 90 million barrels per day , and the country will continue to demand its preferential consumption, despite good efforts to have a more balanced energy matrix with renewable sources.

Historically, crisis situations show the spirit of the leaders who confront them, and the sagacity of the opportunistic pseudo leaders on the lookout to fish in a troubled river. We trust in the ability of those who govern us today, so that sound decisions are made, that privilege the interest of all Colombians allowing us to get out of this crisis, without detriment to heritage, especially those who generate wealth and value in the long term such as companies in the energy sector.
We cannot worry about the situation, because we run the risk of the fable of the golden goose: we kill today what we will need tomorrow.

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